(Maiden Tower) Istanbul, Turkey. Photographer: Edwin Poon
God is good because he calls us to give every part of our lives to him. This idea probably seems counterintiutive for most people. The idea of any type of liberties being taken away doesn’t seem so good. Isn’t this one of the hard sells for Christianity? We sometimes don’t tell others about the good news, because this also entails the bad news of giving up your sin and all of your self-centeredness to live for God. However, this idea of giving up every part of our lives is one of the strange paradoxes of the Christian faith that we see sets us free. Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Throughout various era’s in Christian history we see poor, persecuted, Christians filled with joy. Yet other times we see rich faithless people discontent and without joy. In Deion Sanders biography he describes a feeling of emptiness in a time which by all standards should be the ultimate for any person. “I remember winning the Super Bowl that year, and that night after the game I was the first one out of the locker room, the first one to the press conference, and the first one to go home. And I remember my wife, Carolyn, saying to me, “Baby, you just won the Super Bowl! Don’t you have a party downstairs or something to go to?” And I just said, “Nah,” and rolled over and went to sleep. That was the same week I bought myself a brand new $275,000 Lamborghini, and I haven’t even driven a mile before I realized, “No, that’s not it. That’s not what I’m looking for. It’s got to be something else, I’m so hungry.”
I am not advocating for the idea that there is some type of formula where good committed Christians live nice happy lives and all those without God are unhappy. This is not true at all. Jeremiah cries out to God “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?” Then we see people like Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, who lived a life of heavy depression. C.S. Lewis suffered from depression at times. Mother Teresa was also pained by depression. I am advocating though, that following Jesus is not only good and what we are created to do, but in the midst of following God we find deep purpose and joy that we would not find from our pursuit of self actualization. Often times we are terrible predictors of what brings us joy anyway.
This journey to take up our cross on a daily basis is not easy and we will fail at times. A.W. Tozer illustrates this well when he states “In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross, he remains on the throne. We want to be saved, but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Man’s soul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.”