One of the things that troubles me greatly about how the Gospel is often preached is that folks are led to believe that simply by yielding their lives to Jesus, all of their problems will go away. I am quite taken aback at how the Gospel presentation is often made where a person’s life will suddenly be so much better because Jesus is now their Lord. Of course, folks who present the Gospel in this way are lying to those they are sharing with. Let’s not mince words, because that’s what it is. When we read the Scriptures we find that accepting Jesus Christ as Lord usually doesn’t result in an easier life. Life doesn’t get easier. If we’re faithful, it’s probably harder, from a worldly perspective. It’s just that our perspective changes. We understand that hording toys and money in this world doesn’t do any good. We learn that suffering because we are Christian is a sign of favor in Christ’s eyes. And we can move forward making the hard decisions simply because we know they are the right decisions. The thing to remember is that while this life may very well be harder, there is a reward to come that is exceedingly above anything we could imagine or think.
Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” – Genesis 41:50-52, ESV
In Joseph’s case, his rewards came while he was still alive. He was able to have two sons after he was freed from prison and he named them according to the favor God had shown him. Joseph’s case isn’t the case for everyone. For instance, the new covert who is killed by his family upon telling them what he has done didn’t get the chance to experience a tangible reward in this life. But as a Christian, we’re not supposed to be looking for reward in this life. We’re counting on the reward in the next. Therefore, when times of trouble come, and they will, we must remember what it is we’re striving for. It will make those tempestuous days worth it. It will keep us pushing forward. It will allow us to make great sacrifices for the sake of the Kingdom.
That’s the part of Christianity that a lot of the Western Church has lost. We’re not striving for material gains in this world. We’re working for the reward in the next. Materials are a means to an end: to further the Kingdom of God. If we’re “using” Christian principles as a means to get “healthy, wealthy, and wise,” then we’re missing the point. If you’re going through a tough time now, remember the reward. Remember that heaven is the promise and there are treasures there for you. If you aren’t going through a hard time at the moment, file this away. After all, they will come, sooner or later. Let us live authentically, realizing that life is short and that the gains in this world are nothing if they are not for the Kingdom. As a result, any amount of suffering or hardship for the sake of Christ will be well worth it and well rewarded.