Man under the stars

Does Christianity seem HARD to you? What if there were a way to make Christianity easy?! That’s the beauty of Christianity 101.

Perhaps you are part of a church that emphasizes teaching. You listen to Biblical sermons and are strongly encouraged to be part of a weekly small group Bible study. You feel “less than” other believers if you don’t know as much as they do about the Bible. Occasionally (or more often) you run into other members – or leaders – who demonstrate bad character traits such as greed, lust, unrighteous anger, or pride even though their head is filled with the very best Biblical information.

Or perhaps you are part of a church that emphasizes behavior. Sin is talked about openly. You and other members are judged based on how well you adhere to an external standard – how you dress and talk, how much money you give, how often you’re in church, how well you portray the image of being a good Christian. No drinking, smoking, . . . you get the idea. When you or others do live up to the external standard you feel a little better than those who don’t – even if you’d never admit it.

Head knowledge and external behavior are both important. Knowing the Bible and hearing good teaching can help you understand God and what He wants for you. And doing the right things will certainly make your life better – at least most of the time. (At least you aren’t likely to end up in jail – in this country.)

But both of those roads can feel awfully dry. Empty. Lifeless. HARD!

When you’re faced with something you need to change, what is your response? Is it to try harder? Read the Bible more? Join another small group? OUCH!

How Jesus Did It

We know Jesus lived a sinless life here on Earth, and that He had access to nothing that we don’t have access to. He was dependent on His Father just as we are to be. He learned obedience through suffering. (Hebrews 5:8) He felt every weakness and temptation we experience, and yet did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

He did it right.

So the way Jesus did it must be the way you and I should do it. We can expect success in the Christian life if we focus on the same things Jesus focused on, and put our energy in the same direction Jesus did.

Imagine for a moment Jesus here on Earth, and think of Him meeting some test or temptation. We tend to think those temptations weren’t real, but the Bible says they were. Imagine Him meeting the temptation to use His power for His own benefit – pride. Or the temptation to feel sorry for Himself when faced with pressure or difficulty or suffering. Or the temptation to step over the line with intimacy because of loneliness – lust.

Can you imagine Jesus gritting His teeth, clenching His fists, and saying to Himself “I’ve got to overcome this!” From everything you know about Jesus, can you imagine Him “trying harder,” or running to the parchment scrolls to memorize more Scripture, or joining a small group, or turning on Christian TV when facing a problem?

We’ve made Christianity hard. Jesus never did!   Tweet that.

Oh, Christianity is hard in the sense that few people actually choose the “narrow gate.” (Matthew 7:13-14) But it’s not hard in the sense that we have to work ourselves up into a frenzy, white-knuckling it on our way to a clean character, hoping against hope our strength will hold out and frantically looking for ways to make ourselves stronger or better or cleaner or more holy.

What Makes Christianity Easy

Jesus came to give you and I rest, not work. (Matthew 11:28-30) And too often church has made it hard by coming up with a list of things you and I must do or not do.

Don’t get the idea, though, that being a Christ-follower means nothing will change in your behavior. Far from it.

Turn on your imagination once again, and think of falling in love. You’ve probably experienced that at one time or another. Weren’t there all kinds of things you DID? Perhaps you spent all the money you had – and some you didn’t. Perhaps you stayed up until all hours of the night talking. Or perhaps you moved across the country, bucked the opposition of certain friends or family, or worked hard on your physical appearance.

Nobody had to tell you to do those things. You didn’t consider doing those things to be hard. You weren’t struggling to see how little you could get away with doing; you gladly spent all your time, energy, money, emotions, and everything else in order to be with and win the heart of the one you loved.

It’s that way with the Christian life also. If you find it hard, fall in love all over again with Jesus. Do what you would do if you were falling in love with a person. Spend time with Him. If you read the Bible, read it not for information, but to hear His voice and for spiritual food. If you go to church, do so in order to be around others who also love Him. If you pray, do it as a way to pour out your heart to the One you are falling in love with and to hear His voice back to you.

If Christianity is HARD, just stop it! Quit trying to do right.

The way your character is changed, the way your behavior is cleaned up, the way you become more holy, is to spend time around Jesus. In His presence, you ARE changed. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

So no more white-knuckling it. Simply choose to put yourself in places where you can experience God’s presence, and let Him change you.

Your Turn: Have you found Christianity to be hard? Can you imagine putting your energy into being in God’s presence instead?

Tweetables: why not share this post?

  • Christianity is not hard. Just put yourself in places where you can experience God’s presence.     Tweet that.

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