Life is unpredictable, and we never know when bad news will punch us in the face. I’m presently going through an unexpected situation, and as I write these words, I don’t know which way the road will lead. While doing an ultrasound, the doctors discovered a tumor near my larynx that needs to be checked out as quickly as possible. And so I’ve started down the path of doctor’s visits and tests to get an accurate diagnosis.
As I face an unknown future—and let’s be frank, the future is always unknown, whether life is going well or not—I realize more than ever how Jesus makes all the difference in my approach to an uncertain tomorrow. I’d like to look at three ways Christ’s coming to earth changed everything for us.
Christianity is a covenant with God. First, it’s important to remember what Christianity is and isn’t. It isn’t a religion, a way of life, a culture, or a set of doctrines. While it may contain the items mentioned above, at its core, Christianity is a covenant—an agreement or a promise between God and humanity. Moreover, this “contract” was initiated and enabled by God alone, not by anything we did.
What are the terms of this covenant? On God’s end, he promises to restore our relationship with him by forgiving us and adopting us as his children. The only requirement he demands from us is our faith in the one who made the covenant possible—Jesus Christ, who became a human to enable us to be reconciled to God.
Let me stop here for a second. When I say that faith is the only requirement, I don’t mean to imply that we can claim to believe in God and then live as we please. Obedience is an inseparable part of faith. If we genuinely trust and love God, we will desire to obey his commands. Just like saying “yes” to a marriage proposal alters the course of a life, entering a covenant with God is life-changing. Nonetheless, our obedience is the result of being in a relationship with God and not the means.
Understanding the true nature of Christianity leads to the second point.
God is always with us. Once we’re in covenant with God, we benefit from all his promises. Unfortunately, an easy and pain-free life isn’t one of them (it would have been nice). We live in a world that is under the curse of sin and the rule of Satan, and so we are subject to the same difficulties as everyone else. But the difference is that we don’t have to face our trials alone—God is by our side.
Sometimes, the Lord quickly delivers us from a challenging situation, like when he sent an angel to miraculously release Peter from prison. At other times, he gives us the strength to endure difficult circumstances for a long time, such as when Paul had to spend many years in prison. But regardless of which variant God chooses, his presence, strength, guidance, and grace are always with us.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that God will be with me every step of the way, and this assurance enables me to look ahead with peace of mind. No matter what happens, God will be close, giving me his strength and grace.
Death isn’t the end. The biggest benefit of being in covenant with the Lord is that we can look at death differently. No, it doesn’t make it any less painful, but it does mean we don’t need to give in to fear and despair. God has promised an eternity with him. Thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice, we can have a relationship with our Creator, and death is simply the door to the next chapter of our existence.
Even if the worst-case scenario happens and my time on earth is done, I have no reason to fear. Okay, I admit to being afraid of suffering—who isn’t?—but I don’t fear death. Not because I’m a good person or worthy of salvation, but because of God’s promise of eternal life for those in covenant with him.
Conclusions. Knowing I’m not alone, no matter what I face—not just the present medical emergency but every challenge that may come my way—makes all the difference in the world. God’s incredible love means I can trust him because I know he has my well-being in mind. He has repeatedly proven himself to be faithful and will continue to be trustworthy until that final day when I reach eternity.
Are you in covenant with God?