Christian life is more than many take it to be. It does not consist wholly in gentleness, patience, meekness, and kindliness. These graces are essential; but there is need also of courage, force, energy, and perseverance. The path that Christ marks out is a narrow, self-denying path. To enter that path and press on through difficulties and discouragements, requires men who are more than weaklings. – Gospel Workers, p 290
Consider the following two conversations. Which of the two is more Christian?
“So I was walking in the park today. It was bright and sunshiny out, spring was in the air, and it was a great day for walking. As I was making a second lap I noticed a young boy about four that was sitting on a stone by the side of the trail crying.”
“What was wrong?”
“He had lost his parents and didn’t know where they were. I took his hand and walked him to the parking lot. When we got there he saw his parents and was so relieved. His parents were much more relieved. I was able to smile and say, ‘God bless you.'”
“I hope that ends up being a witness.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Now the second conversation.
“I had a really awkward day at school today.”
“Oh yeah? What happened?”
“A classmate of mine invited me to her 21st birthday party. I kind of wondered if she was inviting me in particular. It didn’t really sound like a situation I wanted to put myself in, so I said I couldn’t make it.”
“What did she think about that?”
“Well, that was the end of that part of the conversation, but later in the cafeteria she asked me why I couldn’t make it. I realized I should have been more up front with her. I said I was a Christian, and I don’t like to go to parties where alcohol is the center of what’s going on.”
“Wow, that’s kind of bold. What did she say?”
“She said that she wondered if it was because I was a Christian. I should have been more up front, but I’m glad I was able to stand for something.”
“Interesting. I wonder what will come of it.”
It’s not that one situation shows one person being ‘better’ than the other Christian, but adversity shows there is more depth to the experience than when everything is smooth sailing. People know that your Christian experience stands for something when you hold the line for a Biblical principle. It’s not that one has to be a jerk or contrarian (I sure hope not), but that it’s more than being ‘just a nice person.’
Sometimes the witness God needs in a situation is a steadfast perseverance rather than a helper. Sometimes He needs us to be courageous and forceful in the face of wrong more than simply being a kind person. Sometimes God needs us to be an energetic person willing to take on a problem or meet a need rather than being a follower or waiting for someone else to fill in, even if our personality inclines us that way.
Being a Christian is not all about bunny rabbits, rainbows, and puppy dogs. Jesus was certainly the light of the world and manifested the infinite love of the Father to a fallen world, but He also was not afraid to stand up and show what true religion was, even in the face of a controlling and powerful leadership, whether civil or religious.
God needs us to be strong Christians, so that we can model to the world the perfect blend of truth and justice that the Father is.
2 Peter 1:6,7 – In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, (7) that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.