Why Bother Living a Christian Life?
If ultimately all humanity is redeemed and made right with God, why should one live the Christian life when we'll all eventually end up in the same place? --Steve
Gary Amirault gave me the delightful task of attempting to answer your question. I don't know everything, but I'm happy to share how I've solved some of your dilemma for myself.
I say delightful task, because to talk about our great and wonderful God is delightful. He is infinite, so our finite minds can never compass the whole of Him. There are always new places, new truths, new facets to explore. He is infinitely wise, infinitely good, infinitely loving.
You ask a good question!!! And one that bothers a lot of people who think a sinful life more desirable than a righteous one--a concept that I reject. I can answer that in part by telling you about myself. I was "saved" when I was eight years old. At least that was the age at which I made a formal commitment of my life to God. I had always known God and prayed just about as soon as I could talk. But in my late teens, I chose to live for myself. I went my own way and made my choices without consulting God's will for my life. I discovered every which way I turned, God's way would have been better. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that my Maker knows me better than I know myself. He knows what is "good" for me. All Wisdom, He knows what is unknown to me. He loves me better than I do myself so why wouldn't His will for me be better than anything I could design?
Having made that realization, I threw myself upon His mercy--His mercies are new every morning--and begged Him to work His divine will in my life. He came in, cleaned out all the gunk and left such a sweet peace! His Peace and Joy are my Treasures, Jewels that money can't buy nor the enemy destroy. Was it Faust who sold his soul to the devil to have his own way in this life? Stupid, unhappy man.
There may be pleasure in a selfish, disobedient life. I doubt there is much; I've never known a happy person who lived entirely for himself. All the people I've known who lived deeply sinful lives were abjectly miserable. Living a sinful life is the pits--literally. It only appears attractive because of the enemy's lies. One I heard of yesterday, a man attracted to a married woman told his pastor, "I just want to be happy." He is making a bad choice and he will pay for it. He will be made to repent, a condition of feeling so sorry for wrongdoing that we wish we'd never done the wrong. I don't want to do anything that I'll be sorry for, do you? The sorrow for my past sins would be enough to keep me walking the straight and narrow if there were no other reason. But there are many reasons.
Let's talk about rewards for a minute. Mat 16:27 (NIV) "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done." Some, who do good publicly, receive their rewards right here. And then, "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (1 Cor 3:13-15) That first word is a superlative. It really means each and every, ALL, not some. So, those whose "works" survive the fire, receive the reward, the rest are saved...by that same fire. In other words, though all are saved, some get rewarded and some don't. Can you guess which are the obedient?
In trying to answer your question, "why try to live the Christian life" I've rambled a bit. To organize it, I might say, #1, Joy and Peace, #2 Rewards. There. I've left out the most important of all. #3 Gratitude.
My Lord, Jesus Christ, that most gentle, pure, and holy individual, took unto himself all my repulsive unrighteousness so I could be free of it. All that I deserved; the shame, the guilt, the punishment, the rejection, he bore in my place. He loved me so much He wanted to cleanse me--and, oh my! it feels good to be clean. He saved me out of my sin!!! Would I want to go back, like a dog to its vomit? I'm an heir. Do I want to squander my inheritance in the pigpen like the prodigal son? Of course, after having tasted the pleasures of the world, I could always come back. He loves me too much to leave me there. I could live again. I could exchange my rags for robes (His righteousness) again. It's just that, from here, THEPIGPEN DOESN'T LOOK SO GOOD. And wouldn't I be so ashamed to come back? I would be guilty of a betrayal just as serious as Judas Iscariot's.
There are so many reasons to be obedient, it would take too long to list them here. But let me mention just one more--my witness. I have children. I don't want to lead a profligate life before them. Surely it would drag them down and that would be the cause of great misery for them. And there are others watching. What if my misstep caused one to stumble? I'd feel so bad, I might rather I'd jumped into the ocean with a millstone tied around my neck.
Am I a goody-two-shoes? That is a disparaging term applied by those who love darkness because their deeds are evil and goodness exposes them. Choose righteousness, Steve. Choose obedience. Eventually you will; God's kingdom WILL COME, (could the Lord's prayer be denied? Could God say, "no" to his only Son, to whom He gives all things?). But why wait and suffer loss? Worldly pleasures offer nothing but death and disgrace. It's a pigpen out there and it eats up your inheritance. Embrace the cross. Follow Jesus. Die to self now, and the second death will have no terror for you. Be believing and enjoy eonian life. There's a race to run and a crown to win. It's a wonderful, exhilarating, abundant life.
Steve, please write and let me know if I've convinced you that "his yoke is easy and his burden is light." He is a sweet Friend and a wonderful Savior. Savior! SAVIOR!!! Oh! I'm saved! I'm saved! I'm saved! I'm free. I feel like having a party with music and dancing, shouting and laughter, feasting and deep worship. Maybe I'll just do that.
Your sister in the Lord,