Jesus never said following him would be like being on vacation at the beach.
Christ Revealed is a new video documentary series from the same producers as the movie Soul Surfer. The men behind the movie are Dr. Patrick Gentempo and Jeff Hays. In it Dr. Gentempo interviewed 25 world renowned experts who share astonishing and interesting facts about Christ from a Biblical, historical, archaeological and prophetic perspective. YAOW highly recommends this great learning resource for Christians to validate, confirm, articulate and defend their faith.
In one episode, Dr. Gentempo interviews Amir Tsarfati from Behold Isreal. I won’t dive into the whole interview, but just a small part that resonated with me. The below is from Amir, but not exactly in his words.
Jesus never deceived His followers.
He didn’t say it would be easy to follow Him as a Christian.
He never said it would be an uneventful journey.
He never said lets get in the boat, and there will be no storms.
Instead He said, lets get into the boat and cross to the other side.
There are a lot of people preaching a ‘health and wealth’ message, which is if you are spiritual and you love God enough, everything will be great. You will be healthy, you will be blessed with lots of money, everyone will like you, you will have the perfect spouse and kids, and birds will sing when you go outside. And if for some reason you have troubles, then something must be wrong with you, your faith and/or your relationship with God.
But that is not what the Bible or Jesus taught.
Amir profoundly said “Christianity is not the absence of troubles, but the presents of Christ. As long as He is with you in the boat, you will make it to the other side, even though storms will come.”
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Phil 4:13 NLT
Jesus said that we will have troubles. Here are just a few things He said.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NLT
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. Matthew 5:10-12 NLT
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 NLT
Not only did Jesus say we would have trials and tribulations, but his apostles and disciples understood this.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 8-10 NLT
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3 NLT
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trails, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 NLT
They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. Acts 14:22b NLT
So if we are a follower of Christ, we will have many trials, tribulations and troubles. We will be tested, and will be asked to take up our cross daily. Taking up our cross is not the imagery of a life with no troubles; just the opposite. We are to follow Him carrying our cross down the “narrow road”. It is a road that is uncomfortable, dangerous, and isn’t always pleasant to be on. A road that most people will not want to be on; hence, why so few are on that road. Many will try to convince us to leave to be on the much wider, nicer, paved road; which in the end leads to destruction.
Today’s culture is telling our kids to “Do what you want”, “If it feels good do it”, “Do whatever makes you happy”, “Get as much money as you can” and “Whatever you believe is OK, because it is your truth.” All of these things are not what God says.
Take this opportunity to discuss with your children our times of testing, trials and suffering for the Lord. Explain how God said we will have them, but how He will never forsake us, and how there are rewards in heaven waiting for those who are faithful.