Recently, I have been honing in on some specific things about Christianity that I would like to understand better. Of course, we cannot understand everything, but there are a number of aspects of Christianity that I consider essential to fully appreciating Christ. If these essential aspects are misunderstood, we will not necessarily lose our salvation but we will miss out on experiencing Christ to the fullest, which from what I hear, is quite awesome.
Someday I will get there, but for now, I must be willing to navigate each stumbling block as it arises. If God expected me to solve all my doubts at once, it would be overwhelming. Fortunately, He does not expect this, and I have adequate time to explore each doubt in-depth and really get to the bottom of each confusion.
I feel like the Holy Spirit is revealing this week’s confusion to be . . . Suffering for Christ. What does it mean to suffer for Christ? How can I become more courageous when I have a tendency to run away from even the smallest of challenges? How could I ever profess that I would die for Christ if I can’t even endure the small things?
Does this mean I don’t love Christ? I hope it doesn’t mean that. I surrender my thoughts and my will to Him every day so I’d like to think I love Him, but perhaps not to the extent I should. If you love someone, you would die for them, but as much as I’d like to say I would, it has been proven countless times that I won’t follow His will if it causes me too much pain.
Many Christians say they would die for Christ, but how many, when forced to defend their faith, would really choose to go through the same persecution and sufferings as His disciples? I’m willing to bet not many.
This is not really surprising. After all, our human weakness is why we need Christ’s redemption, but it is troubling in the sense that many Christians would not be willing to admit the sheer depth of their cowardice. Instead, they proudly profess that they would die for Christ, without fully perceiving what this actually means.
I’m sure there are many Christians who would in fact endure suffering for the sake of Christ, but the ones that wouldn’t probably far outnumber the exceptionally brave types. If we each were to look deep within ourselves, perhaps we could envision what we might do in times of testing, but are hypothetical musings enough to really predict our degree of faithfulness? Hypothetically speaking, I would guess that I would not deny Christ at the price of death but it is likely that I would deny him at the price of suffering. If the death was quick and painless, I would say “pull the trigger.” However, if the death was excruciating and prolonged, I might deny Him.
These kind of things are not fun to think about so most people would say why worry about something you may never face? My answer is, we actually face these decisions every day – to a much lesser degree, of course, but we still face the testing of our faith on a regular basis. Should it not concern us when we fail even the smallest tests?
By no means should we aim for moral perfection, but we should not ignore our weaknesses either. The more we dismiss our weaknesses, the less likely we are to seek Christ’s strength. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up, but we should at least recognize our faults for the purpose of improvement. I do have a tendency to dwell on my weaknesses longer than I should, but at least I acknowledge them because if I instead ignored them, I would never grow and change.
In order to experience Christ to the fullest, we must surrender to Him. I guess this looks different in everybody’s life depending on what point they are at in their walk of faith, but I think I have reached the point where I am finally ready to begin dealing with my cowardice.
At this point, this may not mean that I must be willing to endure excruciating pain for the cause of Christ, but it does mean that I should take baby steps in that direction. Little by little, I will surrender more and more until I begin to clearly see the abundance of love Christ pours out on us when we need strength to endure suffering.
For example, one baby step I could take in the right direction would be surrendering my will to Him. I may be overwhelmed by all the tasks He has set before me, but even if this produces stress, my love for Him will motivate me to keep following His will no matter the cost. This is not to say I won’t make time to rest and recharge, but a fear of stress alone should not scare me away from taking on a new responsibility that I feel He is calling me to.
This is just one example. Suffering for Christ means something different in everybody’s life, so I ought to stop comparing myself to the bravery I see in others because God will present me with challenges as He sees fit. These challenges may not look like the challenges His disciples faced, but I am being sanctified day by day, and someday I will get there. Until then, I have to stop trying to live up to an impossible standard.
Yes, Christ died for us so we should be willing to die for Him, but not one person would have the courage to do this without His help. I love Christ, but I cannot fathom what it would be like to have the courage to suffer for Him. Yet, I must still believe that if it came down to it and I did have to display such courage, Christ would grant me the strength to do so.