What you’re being saved to is very painful, requires a death to self, will involve persecution, and will mean tremendous sacrifice.
Fact: The price for salvation was paid by Jesus Christ.
Fact: The joy of peace with God is far, far, impossibly greater than what you have to give up after being saved by God in Christ.
Fact: You have to give up a lot.
Now, we don’t give things up in order to get or earn salvation. Peace with God, being forgiven of our sins and made right with Him, is a gift. Eternal life is not of ourselves, but by grace through faith.
So we don’t sacrifice and work to get salvation. We sacrifice and work and suffer because of salvation.
Well, we are willing to go through it because He is so much better. He is worth the pain. He is worth giving up the sins we wrongfully enjoy. And He is worth giving up a non-sinful thing we love, if and when the moment comes.
We love Him more.
And we must suffer and sacrifice, like Jesus said we would (He said they’d persecute the students as much as the Teacher, and that we’d have a cross to carry like Him) because we live in a world that resists and rebels against God. We live and work and drive around and pay taxes in a world that quite often loves what God hates and that despises (or at the very least is confused by) what God loves. It’s a world that crucified Jesus. A world that, as Jesus said, killed God’s message bearers, His prophets. A world that, as His New Testament tells us, hates the light because it’s evil deeds will be shown.
We have to suffer because we preach repentance to a world that doesn’t think it has anything to repent of and forgiveness to a world that doesn’t think it needs to be forgiven.
And certainly doesn’t enjoy forgiving.
We worship and live for God (a God who demands the whole heart) in a world that loves to worship TV and self and money and fame and security and celebrity and power. We serve a real and jealous God in a world that sells countless idols for next to nothing.
Paul was killed, probably beheaded, for the Faith.
Stephen was stoned to death for preaching the Gospel.
James was killed by the sword for proclaiming Jesus.
John was exiled to a lonely island for Christ.
We love and worship and pray and serve and minister in hostile territory. We were given grace and a mission in a field that hasn’t yet been reaped. We are called to missionary sacrifice because there is conflict, and there is conflict because there is sin.
Someday the world will be smoothed over, and King Jesus will administer justice from a breathtakingly gorgeous new creation. But for now our saved souls and minds and bones have a chance to bring His grace to still-dead sinners.
There are still rough places that He will allow us to carry His Gospel and our crosses to, places He will use us to smooth.
Some of those places are even inside of us.
Some of the pain and friction of the saved, renewed person’s life are the pain and friction of being made holier. Of repenting of sins we still commit. Of being changed to look more and more like ours Savior. Some of the meaningful and painful struggles we endure as Christians are not simply for the sake of a still-lost world but also against a still-imperfect self.
There are sufferings coming, pains that He will let us endure for the lost and for our own benefit and for His Namesake. And there are rewards coming, wreaths He will let us earn by grace in our eternity with Him.
Someday every tear will be wiped away, but here in this life we still have a chance to shed meaningful ones.
Not in order to attain salvation, but because we have been changed by it.
We don’t carry our own crosses because His didn’t get the job done, but because since it did, we now want to be like Him: loving, sacrificial, and all about the Father’s business.