Quitters are everywhere! People quit their job, abandon a diet, leave their marriage, even walk away from Christ every day. Americans strongly believe in being happy and because we are such a rich culture that provides a wide array of options for individual choice, we are always moving on. “I’m just not happy,” is reason enough for many to make some of the most serious choices for change. Sticking with a tough situation just because it is ‘the right thing to do,’ is not a universally admired decision. Some might even consider it silly if there is an option to escape.
The New Testament has a well-known quitter. His leaving merits just a line in one of Paul’s letters: “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” (2 Timothy 4:10, NKJV) The life of a Christian missionary got to Demas. He decided that living on a frugal budget, enduring rejection in every city, even risking arrest just wasn’t his cup ‘o tea anymore. We get a glimpse at the real problem; he lost sight of eternity and loved the here and now!
Genuine Christianity, not the brand sold in many churches today, makes absolutely no sense without the Resurrection and the promise of Heaven. We have a pseudo-faith preached today that allows us to live without holiness and think we are hanging onto our eternal hope. This Gospel is about a Jesus who exists to make our dreams come true, who will keep us safe and happy all through life while making few demands. The real Gospel is about moving into a new kingdom, putting one’s life under the rule of the Lord of Life, serving His aims. It means we keep our covenants, do not enmesh ourselves in the culture to the point that we are indistinguishable from it.
Why would I deny myself pleasure? As long as ‘nobody is being hurt,’ why wouldn’t I follow my bliss, do what makes me happy? Here’s why- because my life now extends into eternity. I will stand before the Master to give an accounting for the way I lived, the choices I made, the words I said. He will ask me about the investments of time, money, and love that I made. Even more significantly, any small sacrifice I’ve made along the way for Jesus’ sake, will find a rich reward!
You see, disciple, I am convinced that my destiny is not merely a grave plot in a grassy field; it is a home in the Presence of God. Can you understand this passage which comes from a long discussion about the promise of the Resurrection? “I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:31-34, NIV)
Take some time to evaluate the way you are living under the light of eternity. Don’t just look at the big things. How did you spend your weekend? What did you watch on TV? What are you reading? Where are you finding your friends? Whose advice are you seeking? A holy life, one that is given fully to Christ Jesus is not an easy one, “but thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58, NIV)