Ok Jesus Is Better, What the Heck Do I Do Now? An Open Letter after the Gathering
The unique thing about giving a gathering talk or sermon or whatever you may call it, is that it is a one-shot event. It is there, and then it is done. Unlike a pastor who might follow up with next week’s sermon or a small group that would circle back around to more fully address the conversation, a gathering is a one-time thing.
If you were at the Gathering this Sunday, you know (or I hope you know) that I was trying to communicate in an effective manner how much better and truer Jesus and the Gospel are than the lies we might tell ourselves. In doing so I knew I wouldn’t have the time nor was it appropriate for me to fully launch into an explanation of the realities of the Christian life, but if I wasn’t clear enough on Sunday, I want to reiterate this: life does not get easier.
When I talked about the moment God met me at “Eternity’s Gate,” I was telling the truth. That really happened. What didn’t happen, however, was an immediate change where I no longer had struggle or hardship. It was a turning point, but the battle raged on nonetheless. It was a moment of clarity, but it wasn’t as if darkness was forever removed from my gaze. God promises us himself, not a ‘better’ life. Often, it will actually be harder.
So, what is one to do then? First, I would say this, if you aren’t a Christian, do not convince yourself that you can work your way to Christ. The Bible says ask, seek, and you will find. (Matthew 7:7). It doesn’t say work and implement principles and you will get there. Remember John 10:9 where Jesus says “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” Seek God, not his things.
With that being said, we should pursue Christ. We should live with God. This then is where the interesting dual nature of the Christian life comes in. For the Christian, you are justified and saved by Christ and it is not of your own work (Ephesians 2:8-10), but we still have work to do (verse 10). The Christian life requires work and discipline. The solution to this predicament is not a perfect balance of grace and works, it is the Gospel itself. We don’t stop working because we are saved by grace (Romans 6:1-2). At the same time, we fight not to win, but because the war is won. We press on from a position of victory because we have been saved by grace.
1 Corinthians 15:54-58 “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Ok so how do you live with God? Well good question. I’m still trying to actually figure that out. I will say however, that while my original thoughts aren’t normally that great, I am a decent purveyor of other saint’s thoughts on the Christian life that have helped me. Here are a few resources you might find useful and God forbid, that you might enjoy as well.
What is Christianity and what is the Gospel:
1 Corinthians 15
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Thoughts on living the Christian life (in exponential order of easiest to read to hardest to read):
What if Jesus was Serious? By Skye Jethani (literally half pictures)
Knowing God by J.I. Packer (not difficult to read)
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Confessions by Augustine (Translated from Latin but worth your time)
How to Pray:
What if Jesus was Serious About Prayer? By Skye Jethani (again, half pictures)
In closing, thank you to all of you have reached out with kind words and your own stories. I value them greatly.
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”