Inspired by Z, I’ve taken up my copy of DA Carson’s How Long, O Lord? In a brief opening section concerning the suffering that is particular to the people of God, Carson writes about the nature of persecution and draws some conclusions. But on the opposite side, he tells this story:
In one church I know, a medical doctor, formerly a missionary, was appointed to the board of elders. Some time later he had an affair, divorced his wife, abandoned his children, and separated himself from any form of biblical Christianity…
The most thoughtful assessment of the mess came three years later from one of the leaders in the church. He suggested that this doctor, who came from a Christian home and had done all the ‘right’ things, had never had to make a decision that cost him anything. Everything was too easy; at every point he had been supported and praised.
Now that’s interesting. His life had been too easy. How ironic, especially since the focus of so many of our prayers is that sense of ease – ease of finances, ease of lifestyle, ease of health, and ease of relationships.
But what kind of person does a “cost-less” faith make? I have been trying to count this week the number of decisions I’ve ever had to make that have cost me anything at all. And disturbingly, almost everything I’ve ever decided has ultimately been out of self-interest. Sure, some of it was masked self-interest, but that’s self-interest all the same.
Perhaps instead of praying for ease in this coming year, we might first pray for the courage to pray for enough difficulty to make us real, enough hardship to make us authentic.
Who wants to pray that first?