By Michael E. Brooks
“O taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in him” (Psalm 34:8 NKJV).
When eating at a familiar restaurant I commented to one of my companions, “The food does not seem to be as hot (spicy) as it used to be. Have they changed the recipe?” He replied, “It is the same as it always was, your taste has changed.”
I must agree that I not only have a greater tolerance for spicy food than I used to have, but I now like it better that way.
When discussing the Bible with those who are not religiously involved, I often hear statements like,
“I just don’t think I could live the way you Christians do. I would have to give up too much that I like, and do things like going to church that I just don’t care for. Sundays are my only time for rest and recreation and I just don’t want to give that up.”
It is a common misconception to think of the Christian life as one of deprivation and sacrifice. Are there things we must do without? Certainly. Are there hardships that may befall us if we are faithful to the Lord? Yes, without doubt there are.
Paul said, “. . . and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Yet all of life, on whatever basis it is lived, is vulnerable to hardship and loss. Whether our philosophy is Christian or pagan, religious or atheistic, Stoic or profligate, suffering will likely come to us.
Are the sacrifices and denials of Christianity greater and more demanding than those faced by others? Frequently not. Consider the rigorous training of the world class athlete. Few young people are more restricted in their pleasures or more driven in their efforts than these. Christian morals do not require more self-denial than does their training. This is only one example.
False religions are often severe in their restrictions (See 1 Timothy 4:1-5). Many human non-religious philosophies have demanded asceticism and other lifestyles of denial.
The question is not whether the Christian must suffer or do without. Nor is it whether Christian demands are necessarily greater than those of other systems. The true question is whether the life experienced through faith in Christ is one of loss or of gain.
The athlete who wears a gold medal won in a tournament knows satisfaction and reward far greater than the difficulties of training. The parties he or she did not attend are more than repaid by the victory achieved.
But it is not just competitive success that rewards. Frequently such athletes point to the joys of training, the companionship of coaches and teammates, and the routine of competition as more rewarding and fulfilling than other more normal experiences of their non-athletic friends.
So it is with Christianity. Before one blithely states, “I couldn’t live like that,” one should try some of the things being refused. Dr. Seuss had it right in Green Eggs and Ham – “Try it, you’ll like it.” Is that always true? Of course not. Is it frequently true? Absolutely.
And when it comes to Christian principles Jesus assures us that those who live by them sincerely and faithfully, will find great reward. Life may not be easy always. We may find some practices and attitudes difficult to adapt (like turning the other cheek).
But like spicy curry, we will find our tastes changing as we adapt to different likes and desires. Beyond doubt, the Lord is good. Try following him and obtain the proof.