Sage advice from United Methodist bishop William Willimon to his flock in northern Alabama. But it's good for all to know: Being a Christian doesn't exempt us from the messiness of life. Christ never claimed that it would. Sometimes faithfulness is a sure predictor of trouble. In fact, Jesus does promise that faith in Him will bring us trouble in this world. But He also promises to be with us always...and to give us life with God forever.
That last promise can give us a different slant on the things we may go through in this life. Not fatalism, but faith, confidence that God is with us even when we're taking it in the neck because we believe and seek to be faithful to Christ. "I consider that the sufferings of this present time," the first century preacher Paul, a guy who knew something about taking it in the neck for his faith in Christ, "are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18)
If you're looking for a trouble-free life, devoid of conflict, inconvenient truths, and occasional rejection, don't set out to follow Christ. Jesus isn't, as someone has said, "Mister Rogers in a bath robe."
Dare to follow Jesus and your world is apt to be turned inside out. But if you stick with following Jesus, you learn that all the pain associated with being so turned is worth it because in being turned toward Christ, you're also turned toward the only One capable of giving you life and hope.
By the way, here's the passage to which Willimon refers.