Seems like the popular message presented in church today is how challenging, how tough life can be. Well first of all, life has always been challenging. There have been many times in history when life was far more challenging or difficult than it is today.
But what is it that makes life challenging? Why is life tough? Is it simply a matter of ‘that’s the way it is’ or is there a real cause?
According to the Word of God there is a very real, definite, singular cause – sin. When God created the world, including man, all was perfect. Life was not challenging. Life was not tough. Then man disobeyed and sin was not only introduced into but took over the world, took over life.
Sin is what makes life challenging. Sin is what makes life tough. Sin brings our temptations. Sin brings addictions. Sin brings hatred and violence. Sin brings racism and all kinds of prejudice and bigotry. Sin brings greed and lust. It is sin that makes life challenging.
First, there is corporate sin. Sin is universal and it impacts the whole world and every aspect of life, even religion. Everyone is affected by the sins of the world. Even when you do not commit a certain type of sin, you are affected by it. Maybe you don’t do drugs but you may be touched by someone who is addicted or even someone who has died from drugs. You may not have murdered or assaulted someone but the existence of this changes how you live your life. You may avoid ‘dangerous’ places because of this violence in society. You lock your doors and buy security cameras. Our laws and rules are a reaction to many types of sin. Often these laws place restrictions even on those who do not commit the sins.
Then there is our personal sin. Sin brings bad decisions and all of the consequences that go with them. We end up either living with these consequences or trying to run and hide from them. Our personal sins not only harm us but also people close to us, people we care about. Our sin can become addictive. It becomes our master and we its slave. Romans 6:16 says, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Along with the consequences there is the guilt. We can try and ignore guilt, but it is difficult and sadly, ignoring it hardens our heart.
So, life isn’t challenging or tough ‘just because’ or because it is unfair. We are not simply victims of life. Life is challenging, life is tough, because of sin. Sin in the world and sin in our lives. Why are so many preachers, so many church leaders, even Christians so afraid to say this? We talk about the toughness of life, how challenging it is and talk about how Jesus is the answer. This is true, He is. But we often do not tell the whole story. Jesus died to provide us a way out of our sin. He died to defeat sin, to conquer it – corporately and personally. We need to admit to sin and its hold on us. We need to surrender sin in our lives, both the corporate around us and our personal sin to Him.
In Luke 9:23 He says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” What are we denying and why do we take up a cross? Crosses are made for dying. We are denying our sinful nature. This is how we follow Jesus. Why in our churches when we talk about how tough life is are we so afraid to speak this truth?
Life is indeed challenging and tough. This is caused by sin. Jesus is indeed the answer. He does so by dealing with sin.