Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hard or Easy?

I love teaching.  Give me an interested audience and a topic I'm passionate about and I'm one motivated speaker.  Tuesday night was no exception.  It was the final night of the Alpha Course. a twelve week course that introduces Christianity to those who want to know more.  Before me was a roomful of people from all across the spiritual interest spectrum:  spiritual seekers, beginners, and "returners".  These men and women spent twelve weeks covering every aspect of Christianity:  everything from who is Jesus and who is the Holy Spirit to what is prayer and how does God guide us?  Tuesday night was the wrap up session.  

My topic for the evening was "What now?"  In light of all they had heard, discussed and seen over the past twelve weeks, what now? As a discipleship pastor, I'm passionate about motivating men and women to become committed followers of Jesus.  As I spoke, I asked my audience if they thought Christianity was hard or easy?  For on the one hand, Jesus said that we had to give up everything we had in order to become his disciples (Luke 14:33).  But on the other hand, he said that for those who choose to follow him, his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).  So which is it?  It it hard or easy to follow Him?  

I think the answer is both: It is hard to give up your way of life.  It is hard to die to self and turn the driver's seat of your life over to Jesus.  But let's face it, being in the driver's seat ain't all its cracked up to be.  The on-going drama of life played out all around us, the family friction, the daily struggles, addictions and difficulties, the daily soap operas of "ordinary life" that we see acted out all around us are fraught with difficulty.  Much of this is a result of our stubborn determination to handle life on our own and our refusal to face our need to look for help from someone bigger than us.  It might be hard to turn your life over to Jesus, but it's not easy living without Him.  

In fact, it is much easier to live with Him on the throne of your life.  As I spoke that night, I quoted a favorite philosopher of mine, Dallas Willard, (professor of Philosophy at USC). Though there is a cost to following Jesus, Willard argues that there's a greater cost when we don't follow him.   He writes that not following Jesus, "will cost you abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God's overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, and the power to do what is right and resist the forces of evil."  In short, he argues that not following Jesus will cost you the abundance of life that He said he came to bring (John 10:10).

Yes, it's hard to turn our lives over to Jesus.   But when we do, when we enter into a relationship with Him and receive His forgiveness and!  We find ourselves living an eternal kind of life, a life that grows and flourishes over time.  

And that's a lot easier than life as usual.


personanongrata said...

I couldn't agree more. On all points.

We once heard Dallas Willard speak at Mount Hermon (since you lived in California maybe you know of it... up in Santa Cruz. It's where my husband and I met.) Neat guy from what I can remember...

Have you read The Reason for God by Tim Keller?

Brian said...

Personanongrata: Yes, I read Keller's book, "The Reason for God." Great stuff! My wife attended his church in NYC when she lived there several years ago. I'm currently reading his newest book, "The Prodigal God" to help prepare me for a sermon I'm giving next month.