March 26, 2023
Something has really been bugging me this Lenten season.
I have tried to ‘let it go’, but no luck.
I have run my thoughts by some of my friends in the classes I facilitate and participate in only to make everyone a bit uncomfortable. Still, I just can’t seem to let it go.
So here goes … should you choose to read on….
The things we say when we speak the words of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed (a more verbose and detailed statement of faith) are the essential points of Christianity.
Bottom line as relates to Jesus Christ:
- Jesus is God. Jesus is also man.
- Jesus lived. Jesus died.
- Jesus the Christ rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will return to judge and to reign for all eternity.
We know Christ’s promises are that we are forgiven, beloved, will be with Him in glory (whatever form that takes), and will live for all eternity in His kingdom….
Would I still follow Christ’s teachings of love and forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation if, for some reason or other, eternal life wasn’t going to happen for me?
In other words:
Would I follow Christ – believe in Christ – if this life is all there is for me?
Do I choose to follow because Christ is God?
Or do I choose to follow because I need a ‘get out of hell free card’?
More than that, do I choose to follow so that I can live forever?
Is my faith a faith that is essentially all about me – or all about God?
It’s rather a challenging thing to consider because if there is ‘nothing in it for me,’ is my faith worth it, no matter what?
It was a challenge John the Baptist faced (Matthew 11:1-6) as he moldered in prison awaiting his execution.
John had lived his whole adult life proclaiming the coming of the Messiah, sacrificing the relative comfort of life as a PK (preacher’s kid) for the stark life of a prophet in the wilderness. As the end of his life approached, he wanted to know: was Jesus the ONE or not? Had John’s life been worth it?
Jesus’ answer didn’t assure John of eternal life; He didn’t answer the man’s question directly, either. Rather Jesus reminded John that the signs the locust-eating prophet had proclaimed in the wilderness were coming to pass in Jesus’ ministry.
So, was John’s life worth it?
We are left with silence.
That was John’s assessment to make, but I’m thinking he probably thought it was – no matter what!
Peter, the Rock, and indeed oftentimes spiritually rocky, disciple also had to face that challenging self-assessment.
Recall the resurrection breakfast on the beach (John 21).
The resurrected Christ went to a whole lot of trouble to let Peter know that He loved the man, despite Peter’s recent past of cowardice and betrayal. Christ had significant plans for him as a primary leader within the young community of followers and as a proclaimer of the gospel message as well.
However, Christ also told Peter that the remainder of his life wouldn’t be easy.
The Lord implied that Peter’s life would end in captivity and execution (John 21:18) and the poor man was understandably concerned.
Peter wanted to know about that other guy, that ‘one Jesus loves.’ Christ said don’t worry about that guy, you (Peter) follow Me! (John 21:20-22).
Would life as an apostle be worth the risk for Peter?
Perhaps, Peter recalled Jesus’ words that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life…to sacrifice one’s life…for the good of someone else! (John 15:12-13)
We are left with silence.
But according to tradition, Peter was crucified upside down due to his tenacious, courageous following of the Lord. Apparently, it was worth the risk no matter what!
Then there is the Apostle Paul
He’s the one who got me started on this whole self-accountability train of thought.
Paul articulated Christ’s sacrificial teaching later (Romans 9:3) when he courageously stated that he would indeed give up his ‘right to the promise’ of eternal life if it meant the nation of Israel would come to believe in Christ.
For Paul there was no greater love – and following Christ, no matter what the outcome for him would be, was a no brainer. After all, if Christ is God, His teachings – regardless of the outcome for us personally – are non-negotiable.
So what about us? Is following Christ worth it, no matter what?
How we answer – even in the hypothetical – is a means of assessing the depth of our faith and the importance of Christ’s authority over our lives.
How we answer has huge ramifications for how we live our lives:
- loving others unconditionally is non-negotiable
- living in a relentless mindset of mercy and compassion is an absolute expectation
- choosing not to judge others but rather to understand from an attitude of Christ-centered forgiveness and reconciliation is a requirement.
No matter what
But here’s the thing:
Is it enough to live the Christ life, the cross carrying life in the here and now? Or do I need more?
Is it enough to live a life of love – Christ-centered love – into the lives of others; a life that might require sacrifice, might be uncomfortable, might diminish our standing in our community, might cost us friends and jobs?
Is it enough for us to live in such a way that Christ will use us to make a difference in the lives of others for the sake of the Son of God no matter what it costs us personally?
According to Jesus, such challenges in a life spent following Him are highly probable. (John 15:18-25)
Is it worth the risk no matter what?
Yet, like I said, this is all hypothetical – God longs for all the world to be saved (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9)
Being left out of God’s promises is never a possibility we will face, but still…how might we answer this self-assessment?
In the silence of self-assessment, we may find our answer.
Are we living into the truth that Christ is God, His teachings are true and we are to live in conformity to His will? Is it worth it, no matter what? Paul has an encouraging response for us if you want to check it out. (1 Corinthians 15)
And to God be the glory! AMEN.
6 thoughts on “ Is It Worth It, No Matter What?”
Catharine, I’m so glad I’m subscribed to your blog. I love receiving these in my inbox. They’re always thought provoking and challenging and spoken from a place of immense conviction and devotion to Christ. In this particular case, I’ve had a similar conversation with others, and I can’t say for sure if many of them feel the way I do, but as for me, I know that even if I end up wrong and there is no resurrection, my life has had so much more purpose and hope and peace and joy etc, etc, etc 😊 I’ve already won, I wouldn’t want to live my life any other way.
In His Love, Cynde
I am so glad you are subscribing, too! It is so humbling to realize that folks will read ‘my stuff’ when there is so much out there (not false piety, just how I really feel!) The good news for us is the truth in knowing that Christ is indeed God, His Word is true and His promises remain – 1 Corinthians 15 – BUT even hypothetically if Christ ‘chose me to remain,’ the journey and the transformation in my life and the lives of others that I have had the privilege of witnessing has totally been worth it! Have an exceptional week!
For me the question is not as straightforward as it should be. We believe that Jesus died to redeem us. The question to me then becomes – redeem me for what? If my earthly life is all there is, what was God saving me for/from? If the promises God made while He was on earth as a human were hollow promises, then what was the point of His horrible death? Would I follow Him if I believed I would never see Him or live with Him in a place with no sorrow or tears as He has promised? Probably not. My hope and assurance of Heaven is not based on my efforts to follow Jesus but simply based on His love. And if that Love stops the minute I take my last breath and “that is all there is” is the song they can play.
I understand the question, but I don’t think there is an answer in me.
Thanks for your thoughts – I believe the question I was trying to convey was – is our discipleship one of following Jesus for Christ’s sake alone enough strictly because we know Who He is – or is our following conditional on ‘what’s in it for us.’ It wasn’t intended to imply that Hid promises are hollow promises at all – that is never the case – God is always faithful – it was more a hypothetical for self-assessment-how conditional – if at all – is my discipleship? Sort of a quasi-tangent (is that even a word?) from Pascal’s Wager. Thanks so much for responding and sharing your thoughts!
Was he trying to write/teach as parable(s) as Jesus often taught? Blesdings Cheryl M&M
Paul? I would have to look into that – however, I do know the man could have benefited from a punctuation class on why he should not be afraid of using commas and periods! Have an exceptional week!