Many people today gravitate towards a certain kind of preaching — the one that focuses on the promises of the cross of Christ. These promises —- salvation, fullness of life, fulfillment, contentment, abundance, good health etc. — are clearly part of God’s agenda for our lives. And we have all the right to expect them from a generous and a loving God.
But that “feel good” brand of Christianity is just one side of the coin.
On the other hand, there is also a great need to preach about the pain of the cross of Christ. The pain of Christ’s cross includes the need for sacrifice, repentance, acceptance and suffering. Christ never preached a “bed of roses” Christianity. He, Himself, had to go through the pain of the cross before He reaped its promises. He had to endure Good Friday before he triumphed on Easter Sunday. This is the story of our faith. This is the story of each and every person who chooses to follow the way of our Savior.
I know of a very good woman who is beset with an incurable illness. Her faith in the good Lord is unquestionable. Her dedication to her Master is doubtless. Her commitment to her Savior is infallible. One time, someone who subscribed to the “feel good” Christianity mindset sincerely but carelessly remarked to her, “Maybe you don’t have enough faith that you will get healed…”.
Unfair? Unjust? Insensitive?
For how can one equate one’s fate with one’s faith? Isn’t God free to decide independent of our will? Can He not choose to allow pain to come into our lives if He knows it will bring us closer to heaven? Our role is not to dictate on God with the use of our faith but for us to dictate on our faith for the use of our God.
Rick Warren, author of the book “Purpose Driven Life”, once said: God is after your character more than your comfort.
Remember this: We need to embrace both the promises as well as the pain of the cross in order to receive its power. And only then will we know what it truly means to be a Christian.