Entitlement is a word that comes up when talking about the culture we live in—everything is made to serve us, especially God and Christianity. Since there's often a fair bit of sentimental jargon employed in today's presentation of the gospel, we can misunderstand what is expected in the life of a real follower of Jesus. God is making saints. He could have made them like a fairy tale, instantly from stones (see Luke 3:8). But he chose instead to do it in a flesh and blood creation, with a will all its own, by the way of the cross and pain. This world is perfectly designed for producing His saints.

Someone once said, “God feeds his saints on adversity and humble pie.” Jesus gave us no fairy tale delusion that, “a good time will be had by all.” He stated right up front, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

We are instructed to set down and read the fine print of the cost on our part in completing this faith tower and wage this spiritual warfare (see Luke 14:28-33). It fortifies us when we know up front that there has to be pain when following him and doing his will. The cost that comes with this only confirms that what we have is genuine.

The martyr, theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh. Any objection that asceticism (struggle and self-discipline) is wrong, and that all we need is faith is quite beside the point; is cruel and no help at all… It is high time for you to launch an assault upon the flesh, and prepare for better service.”

The older Salvation Army song books were filled with such fighting theology. Those songs of struggle, commitment and dying to our own loves and agendas were composed in the fires of adversity. Those were obedient hearts thirsting for God, trampling underfoot Earth and its pleasures. They advise us that if we go on in the way of duty, we will know his presence. “That cry will bring thee down my needy soul to fill and thou will teach my yearning heart to know and do your will” SASB 586.

Major Bill Kean is the corps officer in beautiful Triton, NL. His weekly coffee doodles complement his passion for preaching and teaching.

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