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Worth The Wait?

Ever increasingly the Christian message is being sold as something that it is not. The message is: “Become a Christian and get a Ferrari! Give your life over to Christ and He will give you everything. He will set you free from money, by giving you all you desire. Jesus’ plan for you is to be rich. For you to be happy, healthy and wealthy.”  Let me assure you that the son of God did not subject himself to death on a cross in order for you to have a warm bed tonight. He has much bigger plans than that. This is not the true gospel. Perhaps Philippians 1:20 is a more accurate reflection of the life of a Christian. “For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him…”

This false gospel resonates with our Human desire for satisfaction. And our desire to not endure the current trial no matter what reward is on offer. I often ask my recently married friends if it was ‘worth the wait’. They all say that it is… In fact I recently asked a mate who had endured a long period of “perusing”, if the joy of dating this girl was worth the pain of the “pursuit”. He too suggested that it was, if you were wondering.
For those not in the know, a life following Christ is not necessarily an easy one. At least nowhere as luxurious as the one detailed above. The church appears to be in a constant state of conflict and division. Whenever you speak to a friend about their porn addiction you either get accused of being a Pharisee or of having missed the plank in your own eye. You cannot even mention 1 Tim 2 (aka the passage that must not be named) in public without a bullet proof vest on. And good luck trying to suggest that Genesis and the theory of evolution ought not conflict. As you can see, Christianity does not equal earthly prosperity. And for this reason many Christians (if not all) struggle with their faith.
When presented with catastrophic cyclones, simultaneous flooding and bushfires (only in Australia) Christians everywhere start to wonder, is it worth the wait? And if by chance a cute young girl (or guy) pinches your rump out on the dance floor, again we find ourselves asking the same question. Is it worth the wait?
It is a perfectly sensible question to ask, for we have not yet tasted the heavenly banquets and felt the all surpassing joy of seeing our saviour face to face. 
There is some doubt in the joy of marriage. Everyone who has been on a wedding party will attest that even the most in love bride or groom will undoubtedly doubt come wedding day. I think for two reasons; maybe she wont show up and maybe it wont be worth it. We feel the same way about heaven some times. But for us who believe there need not be any doubt. We have a secure hope, for Christ has already secured our eternal home for us. There are no hidden fees or charges. The debt has been paid in full. And we are being welcomed in the front door. And if you think, ‘maybe it isn’t worth it? Isn’t heaven going to be just a bunch of people floating around on clouds in white togas singing songs for the rest of eternity?’ Hear these precious words. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more. And I saw the holy city — the new Jerusalem — descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more — or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” And the one seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new!” He also said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the one who is thirsty I will give water free of charge from the spring of the water of life.”

Christ is in the house

As a  kid I grew up in two or maybe three different worlds. The world of school, and the world of church and family. The former world was my all in all 5 days a week, and the latter was merely a once a week world. Both of these worlds were very well defined and separated and only on very rare occasions did they ever intermingle.

Having such different worlds requires very different people to live in them. So over many years I developed different persona’s that I could put on and take off, somewhat like I could my Sunday best clothes. One for school, and one for church. This seemed to fix everything. I could be considered cool (relatively cool at least) at school and be seen as holy at church. This however did arise one small issue. As these masks become so routine and mundane it became easier and easier to put them on, but with that, it also made it harder and harder to take them off. This developed to the point where i no longer knew who I was. I was now only recognisable, even to myself, by these very masks that I had formed.

I felt I was lying to everyone. Not by words, but by my very personality. I was not being myself. I was being what everyone wanted me to be. Things had lost control.

This is of course a terrible place to find ones self in. However I think it is something we all do on a day to day basis (perhaps on a small scale). We of course act differently around the police than we would around our closest friends. A story that has been floating around the Sydney Anglican circle recently is that of a man in church striking up a conversation about finance with a stranger in the pew next to him. He was really getting into it, telling the stranger in detail where the stock market is going, where to invest, where he feels the hidden loop holes in the tax system are, and so on. Little did he know, that the stranger was actually one of the highest men within the reserve bank of Australia. You need to know in who’s presence you are in order to act in an appropriate manner.

After some time away form it all, and a few fresh starts I have managed to rediscover my true self. But this still raised another issue. I soon discovered that the person whom I had discovered was not a very nice person at all. In near constant rebellion to God, a factory creating new and modern ways in which I could fall short of god. My true self was not what I wanted it to be. So I devised a cunning plan. I desired to forge for myself a new self, not just a face, but a totally new person. This would drive me to the core. I figured that if God was omniscient, as he is, I would act a lot better if I actually recognised that. So I for some time whenever I feel I am begin tied down by the chains of sin, I picture Christ in the room with me. This did seem to work, but only for the short term. I managed to have a few small victories but in the end I found myself at the same place I started. In rebellion to God. I needed the help of God in order to be like him. And here is the great thing. We whom believe, have our god constantly shaping us and changing us in order to better love and serve him. And although we may still dig new pits in front of our feet, we have a perfect sacrifice already given for us. Jesus Christ.

The one thing i learnt in year twelve chemistry is that there is chemically no difference between graphite and diamond. One so cheap and dirty, and the other so precious that we give it to our most loved. But they are so similar, in fact they are both pure carbon. This is what I think Christians are. We are still human, and  for the mean time, still sinful, but in a very real seance we are diamonds. We have been forgiven, and we are soon to be perfected. There is a debate here that I cannot convict myself to stand on one side or the other of. The question is; are we sanctified now or are we being sanctified progressively toward heaven? Are we diamonds now, or are we graphite with a diamond inside of us, with the master diamond cutter polishing and perfecting us toward our final positioning on the ring?

I am undecided at the moment. But hear the words of Hebrews12. We do have a father who disciplines so that we may know we are legitimate sons, and therefore have a real inheritance that cannot be shaken.

Hebrews 12:7-13

Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons. Besides, we have experienced discipline from our earthly fathers and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive life? For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness. Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your listless hands and your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but be healed.

Romans 5:1-3

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Hebrews 10:19-25

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the fresh and living way that he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.