The winds of change are blowing across the face of the planet, and they are not necessarily blowing tidings of good for those who seek to follow Christ. Being a Christian means that we will have to push against the wind many times.
I recall a time as a child when churches were filled, when being a Christian was the norm, and when most people had faith. Being part of a congregation of faith-filled people in Australia seemed as normal as Vegemite on toast and the Sunday roast chicken for dinner.
Those days are gone.
Today, being a Christian is not an easy thing to do. For the most part it means riding against the wind.
Riding against the wind
A few months ago, I was out riding my bike around the town where I live. As I rode, a headwind sprang up that was very strong.
From where I happened to be it was roughly five or six kilometres back home, but I had to ride directly into this head wind.
It’s very flat land where I live and I’m no super-fit cyclist, who rides about every day decked out in brightly coloured Lycra. I’m just an old guy who likes to get out on my bike to get a little exercise and enjoy the feel of the wind as I peddle along the different bike paths.
However, on this day I had to push HARD! I pushed, and puffed, and pushed some more to try and make headway into the wind. But it was too hard and I had to stop to get my breath back or I was sure I’d cough up a lung. And I’d only gone about one kilometre on my way back home.
It was while resting to get my breathing back under control, that it occurred to me just how much we Christians are riding against the wind.
There are so many forces arrayed against us in this present time to make our journey hard. Anti-Christian lobby groups, legislators creating anti-Christian laws, the removal of all things Christian from schools and public life, and the list goes on.
And let us not forget those who have been jailed, tortured, and put to death in some places just for calling on the name of Christ.
Persecutions are the norm
Anyone who comes to Christ thinking it will be all sunshine and lollypops, especially in these end days, is fooling themselves. We are seeing the fulfilment of the words of Paul to Timothy when he said,
12 Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13)
Add to this the fact that all signs indicate that we are living in the last days, and this whole point regarding persecutions simply increases as the activity of Satan escalates.
This should come as no surprise since the scripture also tells us:
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in so far as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
Anyone who wants to be a Christian needs to count the cost. It is not an easy journey and there are many who will persecute and oppose those who do seek Christ. But even though it isn’t easy, it is a worthwhile journey.
Then why be a Christian?
As the scripture above tells us, we should not be fainthearted when these things happen. We should rejoice because even though these things may be painful for a time, Jesus will come to our aid to strengthen, restore and establish us. He is faithful and will not allow us to be tested beyond what we can handle.
The long-term value of being a Christian far outweighs the short-term pain. Or to use a physical training metaphor, “Short-term pain leads to long-term gain.”
It is impossible to compare the short-term sufferings we may have to endure, to a life into eternity with Jesus where there will be no suffering, no sin, and no evil. The troubles of this time pale into insignificance when we stop to remember what is at stake.
So, any time you feel like you are riding into the wind and pushing hard to get through, just remember what awaits you when you get through to the other side.
And just as pushing hard into the wind strengthens you physically, so too we are strengthened as we push hard spiritually to learn and grow in Christ. The value of our spiritual training by facing tough situations cannot be measured, as it will see us through until we are with Christ.
Since retiring from work, John Lemmon now spends his time teaching, preaching and writing about the word of God, online and offline, answering God's call on him to “Speak to my people.” You can connect with John on Twitter (@JohnBLemmon) or on his website: freegiftfromgod.com/ or listen to his podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/the-free-gift-from-god-podcast/id1440682375