“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”Philippians 1:21
To all my brothers and sisters in Christ …
It’s time we had a talk.
We need to make sure that we maintain our proper perspective through all of this uncertainty. If there is anyone who should have certainty in an uncertain world, it is the child of God. Anything less is a misrepresentation of the Christian faith and of the Lord Jesus Himself.
So … let me ask a very important question, but before you answer, I only ask that you stop and really think about it first.
Ok. Here goes. Here is my question.
All things considered, what is the worst that can happen?
In all seriousness — for all the followers of Christ in the world — what is the worst thing that can happen to you?
As I watch the way the world is reacting in the midst of this crisis, I expect fear and panic and self-preservation to be the natural response. But as I watch how the church in the U.S. is reacting to this invisible enemy, I can’t help but wonder how so many have lost their perspective.
So I would like to help us all regain a proper perspective — an eternal perspective.
The Proper Perspective
Ok, so what is the worst that can happen? Let us count the ways!
Is dying the worst thing that can happen for a child of God?
Can we go ahead and face the possibility that any of us could die from anything at anytime? Ok. Glad that’s over.
Now, in the most unlikely of circumstances, if one of us just happens to catch this cursed virus and dies, that would not even be close to the worse thing that could happen for a believer in Jesus.
In fact, the Bible says that for those who have received eternal life in Christ, “TO DIE IS GAIN!“[Philippians 1:21] For the Christian, death is only the doorway that we step through that brings us into the presence of God. That means that when we die, we GAIN GOD! Last time I checked, dwelling with God for all eternity was the BEST thing that could ever happen to any of us.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”John 11:25-26
Ok. Maybe death isn’t that bad for the Christian, but what about suffering? What if one of us catches this virus and suffers chronic pain? What if one of our loved ones gets sick and we have to watch them suffer? What if we run out of food and starve? Is that the worst thing that can happen? Once again, NO. IT’S NOT!
The Bible tells us to “rejoice in our sufferings” [Romans 5:3] and to “give thanks in every circumstance” [1 Thessalonians 5:18], for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. God uses the sufferings of this present life to draw us closer to Him and teach us greater dependence upon Him. God provides sufficient grace and produces character and hope in us through suffering — to the point that when we are at our weakest, God’s power is working at its strongest [2 Corinthians 12:9-10]. God never allows a season of suffering to go to waste in the life of one of His children.
Ultimately, when we share in the sufferings of Christ, we are able to identify with Jesus on an entirely new level of intimacy and experience His presence like ever before. We become more like Jesus through suffering than we ever would have otherwise. Suffering is hard, even unbearable at times, but God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called to His purposes. Especially suffering.
The economic impact of this global crisis has yet to be determined, but many estimators say that we could be headed for another recession or Great Depression. Is losing your job and retirement and house and all financial security the worst thing that can happen to a believer? NOT EVEN CLOSE!
As a matter of fact, the Bible speaks about the dangers of self-sufficiency, spiritual complacency, and false security that so often accompany our financial stability. And I don’t care who you are, if you are an American citizen, you are “rich” in comparison to the rest of the world. We have lived in excess and affluence so long in this nation that it has become one of the biggest stumbling blocks to our faith. As Paul says, “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” [1 Timothy 6:7-8].
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”1 Timothy 6 17-19
Sometimes our false securities must be stripped away before we will ever come to realize that God is enough and that He is our greatest treasure.
Those are the big three “worst-case” scenarios that many are fretting over right now. Of course there could be more, but before I go, I would like to share with you just some of the ways I would answer the question above.
The Tragedy of a Missed Opportunity
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”Ephesians 5:15-16
I agree that the worst thing that could happen to anyone is to die … without Christ.
Nothing else in this world matters. How many people around us are dying in their sins, separated from God? How many of our loved ones are in jeopardy of facing God in judgment with no Advocate? That should terrify us.
Every day that goes by where we fail to share the gospel is a day wasted and an opportunity missed. Souls are at stake. Eternity is hanging in the balance.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is for believers to misrepresent Jesus Christ and disgrace the One who died in our place.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is for God’s children to disappoint their Heavenly Father by allowing the cares and worries of this world to overwhelm them.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is that we doubt God, even for one second.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is for a lost and dying world to witness the people of God behaving just like everyone else — or even worse!
I think one of the worst things that could happen is for God’s people to allow fear and worry to dictate how they respond in the face of danger, instead of standing firm in the faith and remaining strong and courageous at this time.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is for the body of Christ to become further marginalized and isolated during the time when we need to come together the most.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is that God’s people fail to take advantage of one of the greatest opportunities in our lifetime to share the love of Christ and shine the light of Christ in a dark and hopeless world.
There are plenty worse things than suffering and dying.
Brothers and sisters in Christ … it’s time we start living like it.