Christians believe something very deeply… we’ve entrusted our lives, careers, money, opportunities, everything over to Jesus. We’re depending on Jesus’ grace to get us through death. These are all serious things!
So it makes it really hard when our non-Christian friends or family poke fun at our faith. When they joke about going to church, or even mention “hell” like its a place they’ll get to party. So, apart from letting it pass most of the time, in the odd times you can address it, what might we say?
- “Just a second… I’d really like you to think about what you said just then.”
- “Hey, I’m not sure you realise how important this is to me personally. Can I explain?”
- “I know you think it’s kinda funny, but I really care what you think about this stuff.”
It may not get somewhere, but it might help them realise that you really do take it seriously… and maybe they should too.
An insurance policy and justification both have a pretty similar outcome. Both start with me being in the wrong and both end with me in a returned-state; perfected. The debt is paid off, the car/holiness is restored as though it never happened, you know… justified… just-as-if-it-hadn’t happened.
But God’s justification (and the faith that is associated with justification) is not like an insurance policy. Imagine I crashed my car into my Insurer’s CEO’s car… I can do one of two things… I can a) grab my insurance policy and say, “Look, I’ve taken out a policy that says you will make everything ok and pay off my debt!”, or b) I can ask the CEO to forgive me based on his personal mercy.
Being a Christian is latter, not the former… we just happen to know the CEO is a very very gracious guy!
We must be careful not to let our acceptance of God’s promises become the basis of our assurance. God’s promises are the expression of his character – God himself (made known in Christ) is the basis of our assurance; not “our acceptance” or “our faith” in His promises.
Or, to put it another way; don’t think of your faith as eternal-insurance, rather think of God’s grace as eternal-assurance.
Its not a fun task, but its a worthwhile task. It’s what Eccl 7:2 is about. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.
Are you married? Imagine your spouse dies today; what will happen then? How will you cope?
Are you unmarried? Imagine never walking down the isle, never having that someone, imagine being 70 or 80; what will that look like; what will your daily routine resemble?
Do you have kids? Imagine walking out of their funeral to a future without them, any of them.
Even as I write that, I find it hard. I don’t want to think through those scenarios. But not wanting them to happen doesn’t mean they wont. And we live in a world that hides shame and death and tried to keep it in a silent little corner that no one talks about ad it only leaves us unprepared for when it does happen.
The best reason to do this is to prepare your heart for trusting God in the midst of it.
The first time I imagined Julie and the kids death I cried like a baby. And in the midst of thinking through the hypothetical, I realised that I actually got so much of my security and identity and honour from her and the kids. That’s what caused me so much angst – loosing the things of this world which made me feel secure. I realised I had more things I could trust God with… my life without my closest loved ones.
I want to be prepared to boldly sing with tears in my eyes, “It is well, it is well, with my soul”