I’m almost 15 and lately I have been worried greatly about my spiritual life. I want so badly for the Lord to come and rapture his church out of this earth, but I know only God knows that day. So I feel I’m living my life in a haze, just waiting desperately for him to return. In the mean time I feel like I’m not doing enough for Christ. I know about rewards in heaven, and I want to badly to earn them, but I always feel like I’m not doing enough, or can’t do enough, because I’m young. What can I do for Christ while I’m young? This may sound silly but the thought of being martyred for Christ crossed my mind so at least I would have done something. Please help!
This answer to email comes from my dear friend Valerie. You’ve seen her in the comments, no doubt, bringing level-headed, biblically-informed, from-the-heart filet mignon to the table of conversation here at swwf. Val makes my blog better whenever she joins the fray; I’m honored she said yes when I asked her to guest post.
The longing for Christ’s visible presence is something all believers share (or at least, should share). Paul expresses this beautifully in his letter to the Philippians (1:20-24):
For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ…I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.
But, one thing we can be confident about is that Christ is the head and only ruler of the whole universe (Col 1:15-20), and he is the one who *sustains* the universe. This means that rain continues to fall, grass continues to grow, and blood continues to pump through your body because it is the will of Jesus.
Because God loves us, we need to be obedient to his will that we are alive. This expressly means not seeking out an opportunity to die as a martyr. We are never to deny our Christian faith or, if it comes to it, lose our faith in order to save our lives (like Peter tried to do in Pilate’s courtyard, but even he was forgiven!), but neither are we to search out opportunities for martyrdom. For now, you can be confident that God wants you living and breathing, and has work for you to do. And Paul says in the Scriptures that we can be confident that our work in the Lord is never in vain:
Let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to life forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies…. For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (1 Cor 15:51-58, NLT).
What Paul is saying is that we as believers are destined for an eternal kingdom. When Jesus returns, he is going to raise the dead back to life (real, physical, bodily life!) and we will enter his Kingdom and live and work there in a world without sin and most importantly, in the constant presence of God. The rewards that you long for are all found in God himself. B, God is your reward. Mansions, crowns, and streets made of gold are all nothing compared to the real, visible presence of God himself and the pleasure we’ll get from being in a restored and healthy relationship with him. And this ultimate reward, God himself, is given freely to you as a gift through Jesus Christ, and him alone. It is not something you earn. The presence of God is a gift:
God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law…We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (Rom 3: 22-24).
So why do we stick around in the meantime, waiting for God to fulfill his promises? Well, like we talked about above, God’s will until he sends his Son again is that we are alive and joyfully and obediently representing him to the world. Just like a child represents her parents, we are to represent God to the world, and we do this through obeying him and sharing his Good News with everyone we can (Matt 28). God longs that the lost will be saved, and we’re to share in that longing. In the meantime, we’ll rest in the truth that God will send his Son at the perfect time, when he is ready, and be confident that because of Jesus, and him alone, we will enter his presence with joy.
Valerie and I met at L’Abri. I never expected to make such a meaningful friendship when I embarked on my intellectual-life dream adventure. Now I can’t imagine my life without her. Val works for an independent Christian bookstore in Wheaton, IL. She and her husband, Rhett, love the local and invisible church, and have big dreams about working with it to proclaim King Jesus in the world.