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

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

Excerpt:

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. I think it was Vox Day who observed:
    Christianity is not Candyland. It is seeing the world as a dark and terrible place that wants to destroy you body and soul. And if that doesn’t fit better than any other worldview then you haven’t been paying attention.

  2. Reblogged this on ishidee and commented:
    Very good thoughts! life is not easy when you try to live by a code of ethics and standards, as set up by God. Often it is easier to bypass these values to get what we want, but, by doing so we turn our back on God and the best that He wants for humanity.

  3. My (soon to be retiring) senior pastor has often mentioned that if he were trying to make up a religion, especially to be popular, he would not make it up to be what is in Christianity:

    – that there is something fundamentally wrong with each of us (Eastern Orthodox articulates it in Athanasius of Alexandria, that the image of God is damaged but not removed; Western Christianity speaks of original sin and a sinful human nature)

    – sin affects every aspect of us: our emotions, our rationality, our volition

    – sin causes conflicts with all of our relations: with our relationship with God, with our relationship with others, with our relationship with ourselves, and even our relationship with Creation

    – by our best efforts, we cannot fix the problem (“we’re not good enough” “we cannot pick ourselves by our own bootstraps”)

    – we need to be born again

    – yet being born again, we are not fully sanctified or have morally perfect capabilities; we must depend on God the Holy Spirit

    – we must continue to deny the sinful nature; carry our crosses

    Speaking of ‘winning in Christianity,’ one of my mentors was a Christian man who was the senior vice president of Information Systems (=CIO) at a very notable institution. He had this role for two decades until his retirement. Before he was this role, he was the dean of engineering for a year, and associate dean for 8 years. This educational institution has to report the top 20 salaries and he was never one of the top 20.

    He never bragged about this and never mentioned it, but I have observed that he is very serious about not having a “love of money” (as per 1Timothy 3). So in this case, being a serious Christian meant that he was going to make sure that he wasn’t making “as much money as humanly possible” but living modestly.

    Some others that I have known have lost jobs because of their integrity. Accountants refused to bake the books when asked.

    James 4:4 and John 17:14ff come to mind … do you want to be a friend with the world (i.e., the forces arrayed against God) or do you want to be a friend of God’s? If you’re a friend of God’s, don’t you know you’ll be hated by the world?

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