New converts are often surprised that they immediately encounter difficulties in the Christian life and falsely conclude that something must be wrong, when in fact, everything is going just right.
It has been said that 99.9% of the blessings of becoming a Christian are in the next world (ie Heaven). That means there are few benefits in this world. It needs to be stressed much more often that becoming a Christian will mean hardship in this world. Christ guaranteed it in John 16:33 and Peter rebukes the early Christians for being surprised when trouble was brewing for them in 1st Peter 4:12. Paul the Apostle warned the Thessalonians that they were to expect trouble in 1 Thess 3:4 and he likewise told Timothy that persecution was inevitable if they were going to live righteous lives in 2Tim 3:12. It was through much trouble that Moses became the great man he became according to Hebrews 11:24-26.
Why then should people become Christians if it means there will be trouble for them in this world? The best answer is that God is worthy to be worshipped for who He is. Christ gave Himself a sacrifice for sinners and He is worth worshipping. He is worth suffering for. Add to that the fact that Heaven awaits the Christian after this life. The first five minutes in Heaven will make it all worthwhile.
Even if there were no Heaven at the end, we should be willing to become Christians because it is the only proper way to live and the only proper way to fulfil the purpose of our existence on earth. There is the added incentive of a new sense of purpose and meaning in life, the exciting and uplifting experiences along the way, along with the joys of forgiveness to compensate for all the hardships, but in the last analysis, we ought to follow Christ because He is God and we are His creatures and He has been crucified in order that we may have eternal life.
So why do Christians have trouble? Acts 14:22 seems to say it all. We can only enter the Kingdom of Heaven “through” these troubles. Enduring trouble is as necessary to enter Heaven as crossing the Atlantic Ocean is to enter America from the UK. There is no other way. Trouble is the “Gateway” to glory. Christians ought to engage trouble, not short-circuit it because it is the means through which they travel to Heaven. If we are to prosper spiritually as Christians, we need to have the correct perspective of trouble and remember what Peter said in 1Pet 3:14 and 17 that if we suffer for righteousness sake, we are blessed and if we suffer for doing good rather than for doing evil it is better.
Do we really believe the Bible?
By George Macaskill – used with permission