Why Did I Ever Become A Christian?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’ (Hebrews 12:1)

There are times in my Christian walk when I wonder why I ever became a Christian. Salvation may have been free, but living the Christian life has cost me dearly. I’ve lost good friends, dropped some old habits, and stood up to speak against lifestyles to which I was once fiercely loyal and with which I saw nothing wrong. I’ve always understood how someone would question how a man could change so much because I look in the mirror and ask myself the same question.

Please don’t confuse my frustration with anger. What I’m feeling has nothing to do with anger. I am frustrated because I realize it’s often not easy to live the Christian life. Indeed, Jesus made a supreme sacrifice so I could enjoy the fruits of Christian living. But, his call on my life also requires that I endure hardship along with fruit. And sometimes, I just want to throw my hands up in the air and say, “Lay off God. I’ve had about all that I can take.”

My faith has already taught me that it’s much easier to live the life of a sinner than that of a Christian. The first thing I noticed when I became a Christian was that just about everyone else – including Christians – didn’t think that I should make the same mistakes as they made. When I got saved, I was told, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. (Romans 3:23) But after I got saved, it seems Christians often criticize me for making some of the same mistakes that I’ve seen them make. To what kind of family do I now belong?

I guess the hardest thing I’ve had to do as a Christian is look my friends in the eye and take an action that I consider to be right even when it may not appear to be in their best interest. In fact, I probably need to start telling them that what I like most about our Christian faith is the peace I have when I know I’ve done the right thing instead of the popular thing. And if they decide that our friendship cannot weather my decision to hold fast to my Christian principles, then I’m not sure I should ever have called them a friend anyway. Perhaps they expected something from friendship that is wrong to ever ask a friend to give.

The truth is that none of us is a perfect Christian, including me. In fact, living a Christian life forces us to learn how to develop a faith that will enjoy the good times and persevere when things go awry. We are no different from Christ. We, too, are expected to face trials in life. And just like Jesus, someone may misunderstand or disagree with our actions.

Our walk with Christ will always require perseverance. It’s part of the process of becoming more like him. That why James says, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4). It’s God’s way of telling us that we haven’t arrived yet. In other words, there are some things that can only be learned from hard living. And God loves us enough to make sure those opportunities come our way, too.

I don’t relish the idea of trouble coming my way, especially when I lose a friend (or a reader) over it. But I realize that something much sweeter than friendship is on the other side. That’s why the gospel songwriter once wrote:

“These things shall pass some great morning;
We’ll look back and smile at all the heartache that we’ve known.
So don’t forget when shadows gather,
The Lord, our God, is still the King upon His throne.

A rose looks gray at midnight, but the flame is just asleep.
And steel is strong became it knew the hammer and white heat.
These things shall pass and life be sweeter;
When love and faith are strong, they cannot long endure.”

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