What causes us to choose? We look at choice A, and then choice B, weigh up the pro’s and cons, and then choose. Or we just naturally run to what we ‘already know’ is best for us. Our choices are driven by what we consider will benefit us more, often by what ‘feels’ right. At times it might be a tough, sacrifical decision, however in choosing it we see the benefit. That’s why we make that choice.
What has been your choice to the most critical decision anyone will make – will I become a Christian? No other decision will have eternal consequences. Will I accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and follow His lead for the rest of my life? Many people have faced that decision and said ‘yes’, however one could argue more have said ‘no’. There are many perceived deterrents stopping people from choosing to trust in Jesus with their lives. One of the more common ones I suspect is ‘what I will lose if I become a Christian’. I was faced with this prospect before I became a Christian. I was in a committed relationship and enjoying what this world had to offer to someone in ‘ignorant bliss’. I rationalised how I lead my life to my christian friends by saying I loved my girlfriend. That justified our actions. However at the end of the day I was making a decision based on what I wanted, what I thought was best for me.
Much of the modern church these days approaches this dilemma by promoting the Gospel, or the Good News about Jesus, in a way that will lead us to profit in this world. That life will be better as a Christian. You will feel over the moon, you will be healed physically, you will be more financially well off, you will receive heaven on earth. They talk solely about God’s love for us, saying that He is the key to all our sorrows. They conduct these high octane services that are designed to appeal to our senses and make us feel good. It’s about people trying to entice others into seeing that being a Christian is better in life. However what happens when life isn’t as good, or when we are not healed, or when we don’t earn much money, or when we lose a loved one in a car crash or we struggle with depression, or when we simply don’t ‘feel’ that good. Did I make the right decision? Am I really a Christian? Did I ‘pray the prayer’ right or accept Jesus into my heart properly. Maybe I am not a good Christian, hence I am feeling this way.
The modern church tragically has lead, and is leading, many people into utter confusion and false expectations when it comes to becoming a Christian. People are turning to Jesus for the wrong reasons because they are not being taught the truth, or in other words, what the Bible teaches. They are relying on their tools instead of trusting in the Holy Spirit to convict through teaching from the Bible. Becoming a Christian isn’t about feeling better. In fact I will go to say that life IS tougher as a Christian. It’s definitely not easier. How can it be when we look at what the life of a Christian leads to.
Romans 6:20-23 “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Before people are Christians they are slaves of sin, free in regard to righteousness. The direction and ways of God seem foolish to them. Going their way is more appealing. Herein lies the great deception of sin. Sin promises gratification, a “high”. Sin feels good. It promises us pleasure or satisfaction. However sin is like a drug. It gives you a superficial high, only to lead you to a thumping crash at the end of it. If we choose to be slaves of sin then all we can look forward to is death, eternal separation from God in hell. That is the consequence of saying yes to sin and no to God. We all deserve it no matter how ‘good’ we think we are. Before our holy God, the most righteous person is stained in sinful clothes. Notice that is says ‘slaves of sin’. Sin isn’t just our disobedient acts. It is a force driving us away from God. We are enslaved to it! To break free from its clutches we need to be saved. The only way for us to be saved, to gain the free gift of eternal life from God, is in Jesus Christ. To accept the work He did on the cross in dieing for our sins and turn to Him with hope that we are secure in His arms for eternity. In making that choice we are slaves to God. We are owned by Him, He has bought us at a great price (1Cor 6:20).
So what caused me to choose to give my life to Jesus and not continue on my own merry way? I realised I was heading to eternal death without Him. I felt convicted of my sin, even though I thought I was a good person, and realised that the only hope I had was to accept Christ… no matter the outcome. In doing so, life changed. And it was tough… And still is!! For the next year and a half I found myself putting up boundaries in my life to honour God which eventually lead to me breaking up with my girlfriend at the time. That was painful, but it was right. I had a choice to follow God or continue on living as I was. That is why the Christian life is tough. You are bit by bit turning from what this world values and turning towards God. It’s a battlefield and will be till we die and go be with Our Lord. So don’t think the Christian life is easy! It’s not! It will require you to make plenty of sacrifices, to pick up your cross and bear the burden of much anguish. However we do that with the hope and joy that God is with us and that we have eternal life in heaven waiting for us. That is not based on how we feel but on the promise of God in Christ. All we have to do is trust in Him with our lives and enjoy Him. What a treasure! What a blessing! Even when life is tough, there is a joy deep down this world can not provide. I wouldn’t want it any other way!