The life of a Christian must be to the world an odd existence. For the Christian life, when lived properly, is a life that is lived backwards rather than forwards. For while the rest of the world attempts to live life to its fullest at the present time (or as the old Latin phrase puts it, carpe diem), the Christian lives his life in the light of his future Hope, namely that Day when his faith shall become sight and when he receives his glorified body and lives forever in the splendor and the joy of the glory of his God. It is what Mark Driscoll labeled it, reverse engineering, for our lives here on this earth are to be “engineered” in such a fashion that our blessed Hope is demonstrated and fulfilled by our lives.
The apostle Paul puts it this way: “In this hope [viz. the redemption of our bodies] we were saved” (Rm. 8:24). For the salvation of our Gospel is laid in store for us in Eternity, when we who bear the curse of Adam shall be ridden of our dead bodies and rise as Christ rose by the glory of the Father (cf. Rm. 6:4). This is the glorious Promise and Hope that our God has granted to us, and it is a Promise and Hope that transforms our lives here upon this planet.
For this reason, we are called to live as aliens in this world, as those who are merely passing through it to reach our Homeland. It is for this reason that the prosperous father of our Faith, Abraham, lived in tents rather than in a palace, for his hope was vested in the City whose designer and builder is God (cf. Heb. 11:10). It is for this reason that the faithful Macedonians forsook what little material goods they possessed and gave to the aid of the saints out of their poverty in an abundance of Joy (cf. 2Cor. 8:1-7). And it is for this reason that our Lord Jesus Christ forsook his rights as God and humbled himself to such an extent that he was born in innkeeper’s barn, labored as a carpenter, lived as a homeless man, preached the truth of God so that all despised him, and endured the shame and the agony of the Cross. All these lived thus because of the Promised Joy that was set before them–a joy to which no riches or sufferings in this world can compare (cf. Rm. 8:18).
And it is for this reason that the yoke of Christ is light. For when this life is placed in its proper context, all matters that the world regards as significant become trite to the Christian. For worldly riches are trite when compared to the bounty that is in Christ, fleeting pleasures become trite when compared to the pleasures that are in Christ, mortal life becomes trite when compared to the Life that is in Christ, and the esteem of men becomes trite when compared to the commendation of Christ. Therefore, the call of Christ, which the world regards as nonsensical, namely to lose one’s life so that he might gain it, is the only sensible call for those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (cf. Ps. 34:8).
However, many in this country who call themselves Christians bear false witness to the Salvation which they profess to have. For they declare that their hope is in Christ, and yet their lives reflect little upon the greatness of their Inheritance. For rather than losing their present life so that they might gain Eternal life, they believe that they can gain life here and also gain it in the Life to come. Therefore, there is little distinction between those who profess to be Christians and those who do not profess Christ at all. For they both pursue the same things–nice homes, new cars, better careers, prolonged life, bodily health, etc. and the only difference between the two is that one seeks these things bearing a Christian façade and the other seeks these things without that façade. And those who claim no allegiance to Christ have no interest in asking those who claim allegiance to Christ the reason for their hope, for their hope is no different than theirs.
It is for this reason that most Christians in our county cannot preach the Gospel. Though they may take courses on sharing the Gospel, and they may memorize certain Scriptures pertinent to the Gospel, they do not preach the Gospel with their lives. And thus when they make converts, they make converts by their false gospel. And though their gospel may not bear the heresy of Joel Osteen in its word (viz. live your best life now), it does bear it in deed. For anyone who would follow after Christ must not merely talked as he talked, but he must walk the same road he walked–a road of suffering, of poverty, of self-sacrifice, of love–and not to walk that road is to walk the road to destruction.
It is for this reason that our first priority as Christians in America must be the comprehension and the demonstration of the true Gospel by those who profess Christ here. For while it is indeed amiable and essential that we reach the Nations with the Gospel, how can we reach the Nations with that which we do not understand ourselves? As it stands now, we, by and large, hold to a defiled gospel here in the States, and we therefore preach a defiled gospel to the Nations. It is for this reason that other countries where the Gospel is not tainted send missionaries to American shores. For they have seen what we who have been blinded by tradition and culture cannot see, and they out of deep love for us wish to show us the errors of our ways. Now is the time, as the apostle writes, “To awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14). And to “look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15). Therefore, live wisely, O Christian, for this life is but a breath, and pleasure in anything but the Gospel of the Hope of the revelation of Christ is vain and will be burned away.