No Pain, No Gain

by Calvin and Lisa Wulf

Hi. I'm calling about your church. Do you have exciting music?" asks the seeker. "Sure do," the pastor replies. "Is your Sunday school a lot of fun?" "Absolutely." "Does your church promise that its members never have to face pain, sorrow, or difficulties ever again?" "We guarantee it!" Believe it or not, this is a real radio commercial. Who wouldn't love a church like this? We all want to feel good and be happy carefree individuals. We believe an enjoyable existence is our God-given right. If life isn't easy, comfortable, and trouble-free there's something radically wrong-isn't there? We'll do anything to avoid pain. But the fact is that we can't. Cancer strikes the faithful. Jobs are lost in a shifting economy. Accidents claim the lives of children. If the church can't keep bad stuff from happening, why stay? Perhaps we're looking in the wrong direction. The cross should be the focal point of our faith in Christ, not whether or not we live the good life. Becoming conformed to Christ is the real goal. No church can promise us a painless life. Jesus doesn't even do that. If we're really going to grow, there's pain involved. Without entering into His suffering in some real measure, how else will we really know Christ? Want to leave your "feel good faith" behind and really get serious? Try this: Take stock. Are you more interested in the easy life or in knowing Christ? Release your expectations. Pain is a part of life, no matter who you are. The early Christians suffered great hardship and kept the faith. Can you do less? Find a picture of Christ on the cross and ponder His suffering. To a Christian, the cross is everything. So don't run away from it. Stop shopping for the perfect life. Extreme discipleship has a cost but you will find peace in the midst of trouble. Remember, no pain-no gain. Count on it!
2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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