Regular readers know I love the teachings of A.W. Tozer. I love the way he pulled no punches and possessed deep insight into the character of God. It’s uncanny how often his writing seems so relevant for today, but in truth was mostly written fifty or more years ago. Here’s something from him which I read recently: “There is something better than being comfortable, and the followers of Christ ought to find it out-the poor, soft, overstuffed Christians of our time ought to find it out!
There is something better than being comfortable! We… have forgotten altogether that there is such a thing as discipline and suffering.” Along the same lines, he also wrote,” We do not want the cross. We are more interested in the crown.” To put it in simple terms, one could say Christians are “all crown, no cross”.
What does it mean to be “all crown, no cross”? Put simply, we want the benefits of Christianity without the pain. We want Heaven without the threat of Hell. We want growth without trial. Worst of all, we want Jesus without sacrifice. These are all two sides of the same coin, but we refuse to acknowledge the fact. Thus, we go through our lives with only half the picture. We’re looking for the crown while ignoring the cross. The apostle Paul addressed such deceived thinking when he explained many run the race but only the winners receive a crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). The winners are those who surrender their lives to Christ. They will indeed receive a crown, but they will hang on their share of crosses along the way.
We are over-stuffed with pleasure and religion. We’ve gotten fat and lazy while the world lies bleeding around us. We have bought the lie saying there is nothing better than comfort. We are obsessed with pleasure and entertainment. Leisure consumes our desires. We cannot live a life of quiet safety and expect the reward of eternal life. This life is our proving ground. What we do each day will prove our love and devotion to God… or it won’t.
Discipline and suffering are necessary for our growth. They are the battle scars of all true disciples of Jesus. We know this because Christ Himself told us we would face trials in this world (John 16:33). Why then do we do everything we can to avoid them? Do we think we can prove the God of the Universe to be wrong? There is no deception in Him (1 Peter 2:22). He said there will be tribulation in our lives. Get ready for it.
If your life is free of discipline and suffering, take an honest look to see if you are living for Him. Are you completely sold out, having held nothing back from His Lordship? We all have our cross to bear, and we should not seek to throw it off too quickly. The servant is not greater than His Master. Jesus carried a cross for you. His was the real deal. He died on it. Our crosses are metaphorical but no less trying. We need to surrender to them. We need to cry out for mercy. If you love Jesus, you will pick up your cross and follow Him. Are you willing to put aside the pleasures and comforts of this world, or will your pursuits remain “all crown, no cross”?