right after I accepted Jesus.
That's the paltry paraphrase of an "encouraging" story I heard on a Christian radio station the other day. Yes, I'm a bit snarky about it.
For years I've said that the reason church marquees don't post, "Follow Jesus and suffer with Him!" is because that message is not really one that brings in the crowds. Doughnuts and a coffee bar are more welcoming by far.
And it does not matter one whit that Jesus used language like "count the cost" and "pick up your cross and follow me." We seem to still hear some twisted refrain of follow Jesus and all will be temporally well. It's a soft sell of an evangelical preamble for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--all to be had this side of the Jordan.
I don't know the woman who called in with her encouraging story and I am not disregarding the sweet goodness of God to show His hand in her life through real and temporal blessings. However, I can't help but think of the many people who heard this "testimony" who believe in Jesus, who have also trusted in Him, and who are smack dab in the middle of a dang, miry pit wondering, "How long, O Lord?"
Temporal blessing is not the promise of Christ. Eternal life is. And the distance between the temporal and eternal is greater than the measured days of a mortal life. Choosing Christ, believing on Christ, living for Christ is the greatest thing you can do in this life, but doing so to get a greater life is not just a rose colored view of the cross, it is a cheap one.
And interpreting our salvation as that which only gets us a better life is the cheapest of the cheap.
Jesus did not die so that you and I could get a promotion at work, win a contest, or have a great parking spot. All of these I've heard as testimony to what being saved has done in a person's life. Gah! What in the world?
How possibly do those words stand in the same vein of "testimony" as the ones from Hebrew 11:37-39, "They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated--of whom the world was not worthy--wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect."
The gift of salvation secured on the Cross by Jesus Christ is not a punch ticket for temporal benefits. It is an everlasting seal of the Holy Spirit, a guarantee of our inheritance, and for the praise of His glory. (Eph. 1:14)