J. Warner Wallace: I am not a Christian because it works for me


Here’s a must-read post from Cold-Case Christianity author J. Warner Wallace.


Life on this side of my decision hasn’t always been easy. It’s been nearly seventeen years since I first trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. I still struggle to submit my prideful will to what God would call me to do. Christianity is not easy. It doesn’t always “work” for me. There are times when I think it would be easier to do it the old way; easier to cut a corner or take a short cut. There are many times when doing the right thing means doing the most difficult thing possible. There are also times when it seems like non-Christians have it easier, or seem to be “winning”. It’s in times like these that I have to remind myself that I’m not a Christian because it serves my own selfish purposes. I’m not a Christian because it “works” for me. I had a life prior to Christianity that seemed to be working just fine, and my life as a Christian hasn’t always been easy.

I’m a Christian because it is true. I’m a Christian because I want to live in a way that reflects the truth. I’m a Christian because my high regard for the truth leaves me no alternative.

I think this is important. There are people who I know who claim to be Christian, but they are clearly believing that God is a mystical force who arranges everything in their lives in order to make them happy. They are not Christians because it’s true, but because of things like comfort and community. But people ought to become Christians because they think it’s true. Truth doesn’t necessarily make you happy, though. Truth can impose intellectual obligations and moral obligations on you. Seeing God as he really is doesn’t help us to “win” at life, as the culture defines winning.

Winning in Christianity doesn’t mean making lots of money, or being famous, or winning human competitions, or being approved of by lots of people. Winning for a Christian might involve things like building relationships with people and leading them to know that God exists and who Jesus is. That has no cash value, and it’s not going to make you famous. Actually, it will probably cost you money and time, and make you unpopular with a lot of people.

The Bible doesn’t promise that people who become Christians will be happier. Actually, it promises that Christians will suffer for doing the right things. Their autonomy will suffer, as they sacrifice their own interests and happiness in order to make God happy, by serving his interests. Christianity isn’t something you add on to your before-God life in order to achieve your before-God goals. When you become a Christian, you get a new set of goals, based on God’s character and his design for you. And although you might be very successful in the world as part of serving God, there is no guarantee of that. Christianity is not life enhancement.

3 thoughts on “J. Warner Wallace: I am not a Christian because it works for me”

  1. The world defines winning as getting the most toys, happiness, before dieing.

    Jesus defines winning as:
    Matthew 22:37
    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

  2. This is a good post, although I think you need to separate the idea of happiness from joy — the Bible does promise us joy in Christ (and who wouldn’t look to heaven and their resurrection with joy):

    “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ” [1 Peter 1:8:9]

    “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” [Romans 15:13]

    “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” [John 15:11]

    So yes, we will face hardship and trials and at times this won’t make us ‘happy.’ But if we keep Christ in mind and his promises to us, our hearts should be filled with joy!

  3. Speaking of, Megan McArdle has this to say :

    “The truth is that your kids will care about how nice your car is, about whether they can be on travel hockey with their friends, about whether they can go to fancy schools like their friends. And if you were raised in a social class that regards any of these things as the basics of a decent life, you will feel horrible about denying them.”

    Megan is only complaining about the price tag.

    “I’m not deriding those folks, only pointing out the behavior.”

    What world view would could people possibly be following that would lead them to this behavior?

    Unfortunately Biblical illiteracy has the appearance of “it works for me” until God reminds them of their foolishness. Keep up the good work WK.

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