I’ve been working on another post this week about the relationship between faith and faithfulness; it’s taking me some time to flesh it out and organize the thoughts of my so-often garbled mind. But thinking about the importance of faith in the life of a believer–beyond the simple fact that it is gateway into Christian life through salvation–seems to lead inevitably to a consideration of security. What do “Blessed Assurance,” “The Solid Rock,” “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “Standing on the Promises,” “Have Faith in God” and “I Know Whom I Have Believed” have in common? Well, of course, they are some of the most well-rehearsed hymns in recent English-speaking Christianity. More than that, what is the common strain among them? They each carry an undergirding thesis that although our everyday experience in this world conditions us to expect uncertainty, anxiety, and unease, we can rest in confidence on account of God’s character; He loves us, He has made promises to us that He will keep, He does not change, He will not tire, and He cannot fail. This is the foundational bedrock of our faith: We can trust God; He will not disappoint us.
I am onboard with all of this 100%, unconditionally. My question is this: Do we overstep Scripture sometimes in the way that we perceive the security we have in Christ? I think of the way that I handle money; I have developed a pretty thorough budget that suits the lifestyle my wife and I lead. We live within our means, but we certainly are not penny pinchers. Barring national financial/economic meltdown, we should be alright–assuming that my church and her school do not grow weary of our employment, that my ’02 Mustang does not continue its present course of falling apart, and that we each stay healthy and able. Perhaps we live in a state of too many assumptions…?
This has been rehearsed many times before, but where in the Bible are we promised a smooth and steady life, with few bumps in the road–or is that the pathway to Hell? Does Jesus promise those who follow Him that we will have no dealings with storms or that He will provide us strength and peace in the midst of them? Does faith negate the presence of persecution and suffering, or does it in fact guarantee them? Should we presume that God will bless us as we build up our personalized, individual existences, or rather should we expect Him to ruin the livelihoods we thought we could craft of and for ourselves so that we may experience the abundant life that only He can procure?
We do have Blessed Assurance. We are assured that Christ will work things all together for the good one we who love Him. We are assured that no one can snatch us from His hand, that our eternal security does not rest with ourselves. Christ is our Solid Rock. We are told that if we latch onto Him as the Sure Foundations of our lives, we will not be shaken in time of storm. Our God is a Mighty Fortress; He cannot be moved or overcome. The ones who rest in His shadow are secure. But if we try to craft our own identities, build our own livelihoods apart from Him, why in the world should we expect that Bulkwark to stand guard on our behalf?
I fear that you may be like me, that you may falsely presume upon the grace of God as I do to the extent that you think God will go to all lengths–as our great and mighty Insurance Firm–to protect you from all harm and unease. Once Reality, however, devastates your worldview, where then will you turn? It is absolutely crucial that we take Christ at His words, and not our own, as He calls us to discipleship:
Luke 9:23b-24“…If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. ”
Luke 14:26-27, 33 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life [READ: The Whole Life You Have Tried to Create for Yourself]–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
Matthew 20:26b-28a “…Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve….”
It is difficult not to want the seat of honor, the comfy chair, the cushy life. But that is the very antithesis of discipleship with this Lord, which begs the question: Is it really worth it?
John 10:9-10 “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Yeah, I think it is.