“Two men are seated in a plane. The first is given a parachute and told to put it on as it would improve his flight. He’s a little sceptical at first because he can’t see how wearing a parachute in a plane could possibly improve the flight. After a time he decides to experiment and see if the claim is true. As he puts it on he notices the weight of it upon his shoulders and he finds that he has difficulty in sitting upright. However, he consoles himself with the fact that he was told the parachute would improve the flight. So, he decides to give the thing a little time. As he waits he notices that some of the other passengers are laughing at him, because he’s wearing a parachute in a plane. He begins to feel somewhat humiliated. As they begin to point and laugh at him and he can stand it no longer, he slinks in his seat, unstraps the parachute, and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fill his heart, because, as far as he was concerned, he was told an outright lie.
The second man is given a parachute, but listens to what he’s told. He’s told to put it on because at any moment he’d be jumping 25,000 feet out of the plane. He gratefully puts the parachute on; he doesn’t notice the weight of it upon his shoulders, nor that can’t he sit upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen to him if he jumped without that parachute.
Let’s analyze each passenger’s experience. The first man’s motive for putting the parachute on was solely to improve his flight. The result of his experience was that he was humiliated by the passengers; he was disillusioned and somewhat embittered against those who gave him the parachute. As far as he’s concerned it’ll be a long time before anyone gets one of those things on his back again. The second man put the parachute on solely to escape the jump to come, and because of his knowledge of what would happen to him without it, he has a deep-rooted joy and peace in his heart knowing that he’s saved from sure death. This knowledge gives him the ability to withstand the mockery of the other passengers. His attitude towards those who gave him the parachute is one of heart-felt gratitude.
Now listen to what the some churches say today. It says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. He’ll give you love, joy, peace, fulfillment, and lasting happiness.” In other words, “Jesus will improve your flight.” So the person responds, and in an experimental fashion, becomes a Christian to see if the claims are true. And what does he get? He gets everything Jesus promised believers - temptation, tribulation, and persecution. The other passengers mock him. So what does he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ, he’s disillusioned and somewhat embittered, and quite rightly so. He was promised peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and lasting happiness, and all he got were trials and humiliation. His bitterness is directed toward those who gave him the so-called “good news”. He becomes worse off than if he had never heard about Jesus.
Churches, instead of preaching that Jesus improves the flight, should be warning the passengers they’re going have to jump out of the plane. Peace and joy are legitimate fruits of salvation, but it’s not right to use these fruits as a draw card for salvation.
Now, can you remember why the second passenger had joy and peace in his heart? It was because he knew that parachute was going to save him from sure death
Now with that thought in mind, let’s take a close look at an incident on board the plane. We have a brand new stewardess. She’s carrying a tray of boiling hot coffee. It’s her first day; she wants to leave an impression on the passengers, and she certainly does. Because as she’s walking down the aisle, she trips over someone’s foot and slops that boiling hot coffee all over the lap of our second passenger. Now what’s his reaction as that boiling coffee hits his tender flesh? He screams. He feels the pain. But then does he rip the parachute from his shoulders, throw it to the floor and say, “The stupid parachute!”? No. Why should he? He didn’t put the parachute on for a better flight. He put it on to save him from the jump to come. If anything, the hot coffee incident causes him to cling tighter to the parachute and even look forward to the jump when he can get off the plane.
Now if you and I have put on the Lord Jesus Christ for the right motive, when trials come, when the flight gets bumpy, we won’t get angry at God; we won’t lose our joy and peace. Why should we? We didn’t come to Jesus for a happy lifestyle: we came to flee from the wrath that’s to come. And if anything, trials drive the true believer closer to the Saviour. And sadly we have many people who leave the Church when they lose their joy and peace when the flight gets bumpy. Why? If god loves me just the way I am, why are these bad things happening to me?
Jesus did not come to make your life better in this world. What Christ said is rather “take up your cross and come follow me”. A modern day equivalent would be “go sit in that electric chair, and come follow me”, “stick your head in that noose and come follow me”. Is that an invitation to a better life? Does this fit with what Jesus said?