I asked my brother a question about a book I was reading, and he said that you would answer it better than he could. The book said that if you follow Christ you will have an abundant life. But would you rather have an abundant life full of persecution or a normal life with no persecution?
The purpose of life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. That's what we were made for; it's why God made us in His image. No other life is worth a peanut compared with that, and it's worth all the persecution that the world can dish out. People talk about "finding themselves"; well, Christ has already found us, and the only place we can really find ourselves is in Him. He is greater than suffering. Even in the shadow of death, God is there. That's what Jesus meant when He said "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10, RSV).
Besides, when you say "life," I think you mean this life — before you die. That's only the smallest sliver of our real life. We will live forever — longer than suns, longer than galaxies. Think of the greatest joy you can imagine; forever with God is better yet. If we have suffered persecution for Him before death, He will wipe every tear from our eyes. But now think of the greatest despair and loneliness you can imagine; forever without God is worse. You see, if you say "No" to Christ, "No" to friendship with your Maker, "No" to the fulfillment of your own nature as an image of God, the terrible thing is that you will get what you ask for.
Have you ever heard Jesus' parable about the Pearl of Great Price? It's in Matthew 13, beginning at verse 45, and it's only a few sentences long. Jesus asks us to think of a pearl merchant. The man is looking for fine pearls to buy, no doubt so that he can sell them at a higher price and make a profit. One day he finds a glorious pearl, more beautiful and valuable than any pearl he has ever seen. Nothing can compare with it. He sells everything he has just to buy that wonderful pearl, and instead of selling it again, he keeps it. That's what the Abundant Life is like. To understand it is to realize that nothing else can compare with it. Its value is greater than any price we can imagine — greater than blood, greater than tears, greater than persecution. The only sensible thing is to give up whatever we have to in order to get it.
Grace and peace,
Copyright 2002 Professor Theophilus. All rights reserved.