Rising to the Challenge

A group of golfers talked about their game and the courses they play. I was intrigued as each one of them spoke of places where it was increasingly more difficult to play. They said of one club where the course was hard to score very well, and they loved it, and another that was too easy. They thought it was an excellent place for a beginner, but it was not the place to go as you played more. These golfers want the challenge of a complex 18 holes that pushed their skills to the limit.

This conversation had me thinking about faith and the Church. Far too often, I land on the exact opposite side of this equation. I try to make everything sound easy. I say things like, “Just give your life to Jesus. Make a little time to grow and serve. It would sure be great if you could give a little money too.”

This is never found in the words of Jesus. He is always clear that following him is the most challenging path you will ever choose. The gate is narrow, and the road is winding. It will require you to take up your cross daily. His way demands that you surrender all to Him and live with total trust in his provision and grace. The journey of faith is not for the weak in heart and soul. People will persecute you, others will turn their back on you, and you will never be without an enemy. Following Jesus will mean you will need to use all your resources, and your skills will be pushed to the limits.

Perhaps one reason that faith in Jesus is decreasing in the United States is because we are telling people that faith is easy and people are looking to rise to the challenge of something more demanding. I know this is true in golf, and quite possibly true in life too.

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