Whether help or torment, I will one thing only, I will belong to Christ, I will be a Christian!
Whether help or torment.
There is no doubt that in coming to Christ, one is helped. Jesus said himself, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink!” (John 7:37). It is a wonderful thing, that Christ would fulfil the longings of our hearts by the very presence of God living within human hearts. What a blessing! What a fulfilment! This miracle that we could be restored to all that we were meant to be!
And yet, this living water is tainted by the stain of suffering. In coming to Christ in our thirst we expose ourselves to mockery and derision. We came to Christ for help, for healing and then the opposite occurs: We suffer. What was the point? Why did we come? “The help appears to be an affliction, and relief a burden”. It is madness.
It is not even as though this suffering grants us access to the living water. Jesus offers it without condition! Anyone may come! So the suffering is pointless, it earns us nothing. We suffer on account of the one who gives the water.
Why would anyone be a Christian? What is the point?
This is one of the questions Kierkegaard frames in his writing. It is a good question, for man’s natural inclination is to weigh up the pros and cons of a decision and act in such a way that he can perceive the greatest return for his labour.
For the Christian, in this life, there is no return for the labour. There is toil. “To relegate a whole life to suffering, to immolation, is for the understanding mere madness.” So to take Jesus up on his offer is insane.
Why drink the water if there is nothing but suffering on it’s account?
It is illogical, irrational.
Yet there must be something for which a person will endure? It is not a thing of this world, a thing of understanding, otherwise everyone would be a Christian. It is a thing outside of the experiential. A thing which will cause a person to will one thing. Something more desirable than the things of this world, than the fruits of labour or enjoyable things in this place.
What is it?
Wherefore would one be a Christian?
There is no wherefore. “Then it is madness,” says the understanding. There is no wherefore, because there is an infinite wherefore.
And here ends the rational. There is no reason to believe in the infinite and therefore no reason to be a Christian. Yet one can believe the infinite and believing the infinite, will to belong to Christ. Will to be a Christian. Will, therefore, to endure derision and persecution on account of Christ.
One meets Christ and is helped, yet on his account is tormented. For me it is evidence of rebirth that a person can desire the infinite in spite of this. There can be no other reason to believe.