Grace is easy to accept, living in light of it is difficult. In the work of Jesus on the cross, this amazing thing happens; He takes our penalty, and we get freedom from sin. We call that action the grace of God. It is the cornerstone of the Christian faith, and all we have to do is accept it. We then spend the rest of our lives following Jesus example and living out his teachings. It seems like this should be easy to do since grace was so simple to accept. The harsh reality is that walking the path of faith with Jesus is usually a challenge. Here are some of the things I find the most challenging to people.
1. Learning Does Not Come Natural. When I ask people, especially men, to read their Bible, I usually get a “Yeah; I should” response. Then when I press them on the issue I frequently encounter the same struggle, “I know I should read the Bible, but I hate to read.” I know this is true because this was once me. For years and years, I struggled to read my Bible. I could get into magazines because of the short nature of the writing, but I found the Bible was much more difficult. It took at least a year of focused reading and let’s be honest; some parts are boring. Finally, one day I started listening to the Bible on tape, and my world changed. Eventually, I went to a CD player, and now I have an app on my phone. I can listen, even when I don’t want to read. I found that I had to work to discover ways to learn the Bible. It seems like it should come easy, but anything worth knowing usually takes work. This is true in the life of faith. Learning the things of God are not comfortable, convenient or fun. They require hard work and concerted effort.
2. Faith Requires Us to Do Difficult Things. When you chose to follow Jesus, you are not choosing the path of least resistance. Most often you will find yourself having to ignore your feelings and do the right thing. In fact, our natural inclinations are usually wrong. Jesus calls me to respond to anger with love and to see past the hate to offer kindness. The way of Jesus pushes me to confront sin and expose my shame. The Christian life is a call to stand up for what is right when everyone else is doing wrong. I wanted my journey of faith to be wide and easy and Jesus made is narrow and difficult.
3. There is Resistance on Every Side. I thought the majority of people would be happy that I was a nice moral believer who seeks to follow Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth. On one side some non-believers do not want to hear about sin or morality. On the other side were Christians who were convinced I was living my faith wrong. Both inside and outside of the Church were people more than willing to point out my every flaw in thought and action. The support I thought would be there was usually nonexistent. I found myself facing a tide of people who did not care about my soul or my walk with God.
Whenever I meet someone who acts like faith is easy, and their journey with Jesus is all sunshine and flowers, I know they are putting on an act. I often compare it with sports. The best players are not the ones where everything comes easy. The best players are those who rise early and arrive before everyone else, they work the hardest and stay the latest. They are people who work hard to achieve. The Christian life is not so different. If you want to be the best version of you, then it will take work every day, day in and day out.
I wish I could tell you the journey of faith is easy, but it is not. So today, instead of whining and complaining, why don’t you pick yourself up and go to work.