There is a mindset that is pervasive among many Christians today. It is the idea that the Christian life is a life of bliss and easy going. It is my humble estimation that nothing could be further from the truth. Sadly, this mindset is becoming entrenched as the new “normal” among many evangelicals. God didn’t seek us out and save us so that we can sit back and rest on the way to heaven. God saved us because He loves us and so we can bring glory to His Name.
Why is it that so many believers are content with coasting to the finish line? Why is it that so many professing Christians are living for the here and now? It is because of this false notion of what a Christian life should look like. I find the notion of the “ideal Christian life” nowhere in the Word of God. Let’s look at the believer’s life under God’s control as opposed to a life of coasting on Christian cruise control.
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 1:20 ).
It’s not my intent in this article to write about the prosperity gospel or dominion theology because the lack of biblical grounds for both is well-documented. What I want to focus on today is the idea of the Christian life being an easy coast on the way up to heaven. With that thought in mind, I want to share an image with you that I believe many people have of the Christian life. It is an image that a pastor described in a sermon a few weeks ago and I’ll paraphrase:
Many believers have an image of the Christian life that is coasting along on an escalator going up. The Christian life is not a reverse escalator. The Christian life is a walk up on…a down escalator. We are creating an unrealistic world if we think we are coasting on an up escalator. The escalator we are on is the world system that’s going down. The reality is that we are on an escalator crammed with people all partying, laughing, and oblivious to the fact that God’s judgment waits at the bottom. Believers are the ones moving briskly upward in the opposite direction as we struggle past the masses riding the escalator downward. Along the way we will see other believers barely making it and perhaps stopping because this life is hard. We need to encourage them and continue upward together.
The image of the crowded downward escalator so vividly portrayed above is very different from the notion of a blissful ride heavenward that many have. As believers we must guard against spiritual apathy. Is it possible to surround ourselves with the right radio stations, Christian book stores, and upstanding people? Is it possible to become jaded because we have created a world made of (seemingly) perfect people, polished lives, and pious platitudes? It certainly is possible but when the layers are peeled back we quickly realize that Christians are not perfect nor can we expect perfect lives. We live in the same world that unbelievers live in…a world full of pain, trials, and luring temptation.
Here is the difference with the Christian life: Unsaved people can try to manufacture goodness and so can believers. Just observe people during the Christmas season. There will be fake smiles, charity driven by guilt, and the sounds of Merry Christmas being heard in the shopping malls.
But watch what happens when the footage is shown from a predawn black Friday scuffle for laptops, or you didn’t realize someone else was waiting for that close parking spot, or perhaps your child didn’t get the big role in the church musical. Isn’t it amazing how quickly our old nature comes right to the surface? I don’t mention these things to place blame because I can recognize this in myself at times.
So here we are on this escalator and we are living this Christian life. How can we expect to make it to the end and finish well when everything around us is going in the opposite direction? We know creating a world of people, places, and platitudes around us that resembles more of a “precious moments” catalog than the real world isn’t the answer. The only answer is to be in “this world” and not of it.
We can only walk in the opposite direction by the presence of the Holy Spirit living inside of us…not by our own strength.
Jesus is coming back soon and time is short. We are walking through this life and we are surrounded by masses of people going down, brushing past us, smiling, joking, and completely unaware that they will stand before the holy God of the universe as judge. We can’t just excuse ourselves as we fight our way up in the other direction. We must tell them that there is a way that leads to life. We have to tell them that Jesus loves them, He died for them, and He wants to save them. They have to know that without Him…they have no hope of going to heaven.
As we are going in the opposite direction we are bound to attract attention. A life on Christian cruise control won’t be noticed…it’s what the world expects. On the other hand, a life that has been broken, remade, and is a reflection of Jesus Christ—will be noticed.
Authentic Christianity is salt and light in this dark world. It is joy and peace in the midst of turmoil. Even when the bottom falls out it is a life that shouts, “God is in control.” This is an authentic Christian walk that will speak volumes about who God is. What an opportunity we have to share the gospel.
Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Not only that, but as we press on toward finishing well, we have the chance to take other believers by the hand and encourage them to press on. With the Spirit’s leading we can encourage them through prayer and of course by reaffirming the promises and truths found in the Bible. Far from the world of Christian cruise control, you will find people who are a living testimony of God’s love, mercy, and word.
Hebrews 10:23: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
I cannot thank the Lord enough for the people who have been there when I needed godly encouragement. They are military chaplains, dear friends, a neighbor, or maybe a pastor who is simply there to stand with you in very difficult times. Do you remember how you felt when a dear believer prayed for you, read the Word to you, or was just there with you? To me, that is the essence of what we should be as believers in one Body.
My hope in writing this article is to encourage you to look for opportunities to glorify God before fellow Christians and non-Christians, by living a life that is going in the opposite direction of this world’s broken system. Be the one pushing past the masses going in the other direction and take as many fellow travelers with you (as this short window of time allows) before the Lord’s return.