Some people teach that becoming a Christian is the silver bullet solution to having an easy life. In fact, the opposite is true. Many new Christians are troubled by the fact that daily life seems to get harder after they are converted. For a while they have a wonderful peace and closeness to the Lord Jesus, but over time that seems to fade and life becomes a struggle. This is particularly difficult to cope with if you were expecting a bed of roses and don’t understand why it’s just not like that.
The Bible gives us a clear answer and some real encouragement.
A good way to think about this is in terms of citizenship.
Before we were converted we were citizens of this world. We fitted in, we were happy to serve its prince (the Devil) even if we didn’t think of it like that; and ultimately we were at peace with the vast majority of the world’s other citizens (Ephesians 2:2-3).
Once we became a Christian, our citizenship changed. We still live in the world, but we have become citizens of the kingdom of God (Philippians 3:20, Ephesians 2:19). We are now strangers on the earth and we don’t fit in. The Devil has become our active enemy and the majority of the people we live with now view us with suspicion (John 15:18-19). There is no way we can have a foot in both camps (Matthew 6:24). The fact is that we are now fighting a real battle and we are doing it whilst living behind enemy lines.
In this context it shouldn’t surprise us that life suddenly becomes harder!
Don’t despair though. The key is to put things in perspective.
The kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom. For a very short time God asks his people to fight behind enemy lines, but promises the reward of heaven at the end of the battle. And, it’s no small reward – eternal life praising our Saviour in perfect peace and happiness. As Peter tells us, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.’ (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Contrast this to the fate of those who remain citizens of the world – they are living on borrowed time which will sooner or later run out. Then they will hear Jesus, as a judge, say ‘…depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…‘ (Matthew 25:41)
So, we fight a daily battle, but we do so with the prospect of heaven to keep us going. More than that though, we are promised that we will win the fight and we are promised lots of help for the fight. Look back at that passage from 1 Peter. Christians are ‘kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation‘. Jesus himself tells us ‘These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.‘ (John 16:33)
When you feel like life is a struggle, full of sins and doubts and fears, take heart – polish up the armour God gave you (Ephesians 6:10-20), fight on (Philippians 3:14) and remember that you already have a victory in Christ, that you are already a citizen of God’s kingdom.
‘…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.‘ (Romans 8:37-39)[A00141 – 02/10/2020]