Holy Agony: 2012
by Patte Smith on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 9:42am ·
"Woe unto them who are at ease."
Agony! That's the Christian life. Join the agony! How would you like that for a bumper sticker? You want real agony? Try Jesus. Get in the agony! You say, "Wait a minute, you're not going to sell anybody." Well, the word agony doesn't refer to a sprint. There are plenty of 100-yard dash Christians. And then they flop, you see. And then they pant for awhile and then they get up, go to a Bill Gothard seminar and they go again. They get done with that, they hear a great sermon and then they go again. They just run all over the place. It's not the kind of race he's talking about. This is a marathon and that's what he's saying. And he's saying we have to run this marathon with 'hupamonyin' the Greek word which means endurance. This is an endurance race. This isn't a short spurt. The Christian life is a commitment to run with endurance to victory. It demands discipline, it demands a certain kind of rigid care, it demands a self-sacrifice, a self-denial. It demands all these things but it is nothing like a passive luxury.
I was sharing with some of the pastors back at Moody this week that there's a mentality in Christianity today that wants to make Christianity sort of like a really, just some kind of a happy-go-lucky gig. You know, you're a Christian, so you just kind of flake away, see? And then you hear, "Well, if the Lord wants me, I'm available." You're available, well how nice. "The Lord just hasn't shown me anything. I'm certainly available." That's not the Christian life. We're not to ride around on flowery beds of ease. There's a strenuous self-sacrifice that demands hard training and discipline. This is true of the minister. I was sharing with the pastors this week that in 2 Timothy chapter 2 it says you have to endure hardness as the good soldier. It isn't easy to be a Christian. It is the life of a soldier. Paul comes to the end and says "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race." Then there must be a sense of commitment.
It isn't any different for me. You say, "Well, you're a mature Christian, you know the Bible and the Christian life must be just roses for you." Yes, it can. All the same temptations - you think I get up every morning and say, "Oh, I get to study the Bible again today. I get to go to work and I can parse verbs for the next two hours. Do my Greek study." Do you think that's a great joy every day? It's a discipline. It's like anything else. It's a discipline. And because I desire to please God, most of the time, more than myself, although there are times when I don't, but because that's my greatest desire, I've learned to discipline myself to get to the goal that I set for myself and that is to do that which pleases Him. But it's a discipline. In fact, Amos said in Amos 6:1 "Woe unto them who are at ease." It's not a good place to be. There ought to be an aggressiveness to the Christian life. There ought to be a competitiveness to the Christian life insofar as you fight against weakness and indolence and laziness and ignorance and sin. So be what God wants you to be. Get in this thing. First of all, come to Christ. Get over the fence. Get in the race and when you're in it, man, run it! Run it. We don't need a whole lot of flaky Christians lying around the track.
~ John MacArthur
from a sermon he preached on Hebrews 12:1-4