Some Advantages of Being a Christian!
First, he has this advantage, that the greatest burden of this mortal life is off his shoulders. He is less weighted in the race of life than the common run of men, for the main load of life is sin — the consciousness of having broken the law of God — the consciousness that all is not right — and this is gone from him. A man in Christ has confessed his sin to his Lord, and there is a promise that he who confesses and forsakes his sin shall find mercy. He has looked to Jesus, the great sin-bearer, and he has seen his sin transferred to the great Substitute, and put away and now, being justified by faith, he has peace with God through Jesus Christ his Lord. That great load of sin has gone.
Oh, when a man sits quietly down in his chamber, in the watches of the night, and begins to think over his past life, it will make him tremble, unless he is able to see Christ on the cross putting away sin, and unless he knows by the assuring witness of the Holy Spirit that his transgressions were thus put away. Then the nightmare of a half-awakened conscience is gone. The dreadful burden from the spirit is lifted, and he is another man — a man with this grand advantage that, whatever burdens he has to bear, the intolerable weight of sin is gone, forever gone.
Better still, he has this further advantage — that all his major matters are perfectly safe. He goes into business, and knows that he may lose a fortune with the turn of the market. But his best capital is settled upon him forever. Perhaps, week after week, everything goes against him, but he is like Little Faith, of whom John Bunyan says that the thieves robbed him of all his spending money, but they could not find his jewels, for they were hidden away where none could reach them.
So the Christian man feels, "I may lose everything I possess of worldly substance, but I shall never lose my God; and while I possess my God and my hope, I can still take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them."
I heard of one who walked down the Borough, with unpardonable carelessness, carrying a considerable sum of money in his coat pocket. As he stopped to look in a window, a thief stole his handkerchief from that very pocket. He was not at all distressed about that loss when he reached home, for, thrusting his hand to the bottom of his pocket, he found that the parcel which contained his money was all right, and he said, "I have not lost the money. I care little for the handkerchief!" In fact, he seemed so rejoiced that his money was safe, that he forgot the other loss.
Just so, a man in Christ considers all that he has on earth to be inconsiderable, compared with the treasure of salvation which he knows to be secure in the keeping of his Redeemer. His sorrow at present losses is swallowed up in the joy that his eternal interests are safe.
As for his minor burdens, here is another point of advantage to a Christian man, for by faith he leaves them with his God, and expects that good will come of them. He believes that any evil which happens to him is robbed of its sting, and made to benefit him. He bears the ills of life, not with patience merely, but with acquiescence in the Divine will which appointed them, because he has this promise, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
So the great load of sin is gone, and now the little loads are transformed, and the great future is all secure. Is not such a man placed at a wonderful advantage in the race of life?
Besides all this, the fear of death is removed from him. Is there anything more desirable than to have the dread of the grave, and of that "something after death," effectually taken away? This body loves not death, nor is it right that it should, for the law of self-preservation is stamped upon us, and a natural fear of the mortal stroke hangs over us.
But, still, the Christian frequently looks forward to the time of his departure with intense expectancy and joy, and he awaits the inevitable hour with perfect peace; for he knows that his Redeemer lives, and that though the worms devour his body, yet in the latter day he shall in his flesh behold his God; and so he looks serenely forward to the awful article of death. Is he not placed at an advantage compared with all the rest of mankind?
Let me say, also, of the man in Christ that he has other advantages. First, in the troubles of life he has always a Friend. You know how it is in business: if you have a good substantial friend at your back, you feel very much confidence. Many a young man starting in life would have made a failure of it, if he had not had a wise and wealthy friend to support him. Sometimes he slips out of the Exchange or out of the warehouse and consults this friend, and he feels that his advice is worth anything to him.
Now, a man in Christ has a Friend. It is his own living, loving Lord, who condescends to speak with him, and to hear his griefs, and to render him assistance. Many a Christian man here knows what it is to seek that Friend and to speak with Him. Would not your heart have broken sometimes if it had not been that you could pour your sorrows into that fraternal bosom, and tell them to One who, having been tempted in all points like as you are, is able to meet your cares?
It is a great thing to a man, too, in the voyage of life, to have a good chart; and that the Christian man has. He has the Bible, to tell him exactly what to do under all circumstances. You say to me, "Nay, not so; that Book gives general principles, but not specific directions." But these general principles are applicable under all circumstances. And then I claim that the Bible does more than supply principles, for its words are often as peculiarly appropriate to the individual case as if it alone had been in the writer's eye.
I have often met with texts which seemed written for that very hour, and which met my case to the very letter. Every believer knows that this has occurred to himself. After all, the general principle of the Bible — namely, always to do the right — is the best chart a man can have.
When ambassadors meet in the council chamber, the man who baffles all the rest with his policy is he who has no policy at all except that of speaking the truth. He puzzles rivals, and they suspect him of some deep-laid scheme. All over the world, the man whom nobody can match or defeat, is the man who has no policy but that of believing that a straight line is the shortest distance between any two places, which straight line he means to follow, leaving the zigzag and the serpentine to those who prefer them. Just so, the Word of God makes the simplest mind wise and discreet because it sets forth the path of right and truth.
Moreover, remember that a Christian man has a mighty Spirit dwelling within him. Every Christian has had a miracle wrought upon him, nature has been outdone by a Divine work. The Holy Spirit has come to dwell in the believer, and He, in addition to enlightening him as to his way, arouses him that he may follow it. He chides him when he goes astray, and inspires him with ardor and zeal to press forward in his life-work. Our own spirits flag and falter, but the Divine Spirit is free from all imperfections, and where He dwells there is a power, a light, and a joy unknown to all the world besides.
A man in Christ has also the high privilege of being under the special care of God. He and his brethren are like an army marching through a foreign country, having at its back a good basis of supplies. Many a commander has been beaten because he has advanced too far and forgotten the necessity of adequate supplies. But the Christian knows that it is written, "My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." His firm conviction is that "those who wait upon the Lord shall not lack any good thing," and, then being free from care, he has in his bosom a well-spring of content.
Moreover, he has a constant communication with head-quarters where his stores are laid up, for prayer telegraphs to Heaven, and the promise is, "Before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear."
A man in Christ is a man upon an extraordinary vantage ground. The world cannot understand him, nor can it withstand him. He lives in it and yet lives above it. He glides through it, not without trial, for "in the world you shall have tribulation," but certainly without defeat, for Christ has said, "Be of good cheer: I have overcome the world."
If I did not look for immortality, but expected to die like a dog, I would wish to be a Christian. If there were no hereafter, if there were no Heaven or Hell, if I only had to meet the sorrows and the strifes and the cares and burdens of this mortal life, I would ask You, great Master, Jesus, to let me enlist beneath Your banner; for You give peace and rest to all who come beneath Your sway.