The Christian life is difficult. It’s not quite spitting into the wind hard, but it’s still tough. But there is a difference between it being hard and being lousy. Christians are often portrayed in print and film as joyless prigs who have settled for a flavorless life. Sadly, many believers can fall into this same line of thinking. Being shaped by the world around us and some degree of truncated biblical application, we can buy the lie that the abundant life is out of reach. We think that we’ve settled for less.
I was reminded of this on a recent visit to the store to pick up a couple of things for my wife. Walking through the supermarket I noticed a discount bin. In this section of the cooler there was discounted meat that was nearing its expiration. Nearby there was a shelf with damaged boxes. Things were discounted because they were not as good as the other stuff. We should not think about the Christian life as that which was pulled out of the bargain bin. It’s not less, it’s more.
Here are a few reminders why:
WE GET GOD
There is nothing or no one in this world worth more than God himself. The Christian must never forget that the glorious truth of the gospel is that Christ has brought us home to God (1 Pet. 3:18). In the garden of Eden we were at home with God (Gen. 1-2) but through sin we have been escorted out of the garden (Gen. 3). The rest of human history is filled with humanity’s clawing to get back to Eden, back to God. Everything people sink their teeth into, grasp ahold of, or fasten their heart upon comes with a potential promise. But like empty cisterns they cannot deliver; they can’t bear the weight of our thirst (Jer. 2:13). It is only in God that we can have all of our desires fully sanctified and satisfied. This is not less than ideal; it is the ideal.
WE SEE IN HD
I remember the first time I watched a baseball game in high-definition. I remember telling my friend that it was like watching a different game; it was an entirely new experience. This is what happens when we become a Christian. Suddenly we see the world in light of God and experience his blessings in light of grace. Eyes formerly blinded by sin become illuminated by grace (2 Cor. 4:4-6).
WE KNOW OURSELVES
Part of this seeing is an accurate assessment of ourselves. One of the most frustrating aspects of growing spiritually is becoming more aware with how prideful I am. But the only thing worse than being aware of how prideful I am is to be ignorant of it! Learning more about sin makes me more appreciate grace. Seeing myself in light of God’s character is not some second-tier life; it is true life.
WE WALK WITH JESUS
There is nothing that this world has to offer that even begins to compare with the precious joy of knowing, loving, and becoming like Jesus. He was after all, the most contented man who ever lived. He was fully satisfied in God, free from sin, faithful in temptation, full of compassion, unwavering on truth, fearless in opposition, and faithful to sacrifice for his people (this is just a few!). Our lives as Christians is about growing more in our knowledge of and fellowship with Jesus. What joy to have a Savior that sympathizes with you in weakness. Consider it: he knows you intimately—all of your failings and foibles—and yet he loves you infinitely—even to the end and through your sin! There is no friend like this.
Let’s not forget the unspeakable riches we have in Christ—not just in the heavenly court but also in our earthly experience. It is hardly that which makes up the discount bin.