What is the benefit of being God's child? What does it "get" you?
A lot of Christians would say, well, that's easy - it gets me eternity. It gets me a home forever in Heaven, a new life after this one is over. A chance to live in glory forever with all of those I have ever loved and who have loved God. A chance to walk with the saints. (Notice how easy it is to paint a wonderful picture of the next life as we have come to fathom it...and not even mention that the Lord Himself will also be there. That should trouble you.)
That's what a lot of us would say, but just as many of us live as though a life with God is supposed to be pain-free living. It's supposed to be perfect. It's supposed to be nice and safe and without the same troubles that everyone else faces. In fact, this is one of the reasons persons leave the faith so easily - they have this expectation of what God "gets" them, and those of us who have lived it for any length of time know that this just isn't the case.
And yet, the answer cannot also be "nothing." We cannot let ourselves believe, as the world would tell us, that there is really no benefit at all to faith. That believing in this God over any other or over no god at all is fundamentally no different than what we haven't chosen. That we all basically live the same life and then die the same death and the only difference "faith" makes is that it somehow changes the way we believe we're living, without changing the reality at all.
Thankfully, the psalmist puts for us in clear terms what is the distinction of the Christian life, what it is that our Lord God gives us that does change the reality of things. That is real. To the psalmist, these are the benefits of God (Ps. 103):
- God forgives.
- God heals.
- God redeems.
- God crowns.
- God satisfies.
Notice that these are not the things that we go to immediately when we're asked about it. Notice that these are not the things we are most expectant for from our God, even though they should be.
Notice also that these fly in the face of the prosperity gospel that promises a good, comfortable, easy life without trouble or pain or trial. In fact, each of these is based on our brokenness, our sin, or our aching desire.
We have to sin in order to be forgiven. We have to be broken in order to be healed. We have to be fallen in order to be redeemed. We have to be humbled in order to be crowned. We have to long in order to be satisfied. Which means that the life we should expect as we live out our faith is a life of sin, brokenness, fallenness, humility, and longing.
It is God who makes it worthwhile.
In order that it is God who gets the glory.
No matter how much we think it is us who are deserving of the glory for our lives. (Ouch.)
So what does your faith get you? What are the benefits of believing God? It's not that we are somehow less human, somehow exempt from the realities of this world. If anything, we become more human...so that God can be shown more holy. So that God can be known more glorious.
And that's okay. We should be okay with that. Because being forgiven, healed, redeemed, crowned, and satisfied...so loved...seems a pretty good life to live to me. How about you? I mean, we get to live in His glory. How cool is that?