What do you want out of life? You are probably no different than me and most other people. We desire love, peace, hope, confidence, happiness, security and the awareness of accomplishment—that is, that one’s life has meaning. Fritz Ridenour who wrote “How to be a Christian Without Being Religious” says we may express it in different ways, but by and large this is what most people desire out of life. In Romans 5:1-11 Paul claims the Christian who has been justified, that is, made right with God, may have all of these things. Through our faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us (Romans 5:1) we may enjoy real peace with God. In addition our new faith brings us wonderful and practical results, namely, we are given new potential, new power and a new Friend.
First, as said above, we have been given new potential in that Christ has satisfied our debt to the Law. Without this hanging over our heads, we are free to become all that God had meant for us to be from the beginning. How? Actually, Paul has written the answer all over Romans—having faith or trust in God. This assumes we are disposed to letting God be in charge of our lives, that is, we let him do the directing, much like a coach does for the players on a football team. He sends in the plays, directing who should do what etc. When the going gets tough, we need to be even more careful about listening to and taking our signals from God.
Secondly, we have been given new power through God’s gift of his Holy Spirit. Many of us want to pray our troubles away, but these unwanted events in our lives may be the very things God has sent us for our own good. Paul says Christians can rejoice in their problems and difficulties. Working through them builds patients (Romans 5:3). No one likes difficult situations, but they do have their value as far as developing strength of character is concerned, and in it all, we learn to trust God more and more to bring us through them. Thus, we come out on the other side with even greater faith than when our difficulties began to show their ugly head (Romans 5:4).
Sure, this is easier said than done. If you are like me you may have a short fuse and are easily discouraged. Often, I find myself all alone with my problem. Well, that’s one of the benefits that comes with being a Christian—I am never really alone. Even in defeat, God is there to share in my sorrow and pain. It is comforting to understand he hasn’t left me because I failed or was just overwhelmed in it all. Nevertheless, I gained experience. Next time I should be able to rely on the Holy Spirit within me a little better than before. Truly, faith is made stronger even in past defeats. I guess one can say my strength comes from knowing God has been faithful to me. He doesn’t leave when the going gets rough—he shares my pain and feeling of inadequacy. When the problems arise again I am more ready to wait on him. Actually doing nothing in the midst of murky problems is a difficult but worthwhile task, just like letting muddy water alone allows the dirt and debris settle to the bottom. It is a purifying process. Waiting seems to put things in perspective. Waiting coupled with thinking and praying often gives direction—the right thing to do.
Finally, we are given a new Friend. I suppose the most important of all the desires I have to get out of life is love. Just knowing that I matter to someone means a lot. It can make the difference between despair and finding meaning in life. As a Christian I know I matter to Jesus. He died for me, taking the burden of my guilt and sinfulness upon his shoulders to the grave. I live a new life because of him. He loves me, and has made himself my Friend. Knowing this, I am never alone in my trials and difficulties. He has promised to be with me and has proved himself faithful. I like the way the New Living Translation puts it:
Romans 5:11 NLT So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.
Being friends with God means my faith is more than fire insurance. It is just about the most practical part of Christianity, and is about as religious as a football player relying on his coach for the next play of the game! What do you think—is your faith more than fire insurance?