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Doing Christian the Hard Way

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  Matthew 19:23-24.

There are a myriad of sources in popular Christian culture that will purport to help you in your Christian walk.  We have podcasts and blogs and web sites and even some old-fashioned books to assist us.  They are targeted at teens, mothers, fathers, Christian business people, cancer sufferers, and just about every demographic that will support a marketing budget.  The idea is that Christian discipleship is hard and we need some experts to help us make progress.

That idea will resonate with many of us.  We struggle to exercise the spiritual disciplines we know will make us grow stronger in the Lord.  They aren’t called disciplines for nothing.  They won’t do themselves.  It takes some work.

It turns out, they can take a lot less work than you might think.  The energy required to exercise a discipline is negatively correlated with one’s commitment to that discipline.  If you really ENJOY running in the early morning, it takes much less discipline to get your miles done.

The same element is in play in Christian disciplines at multiple levels.  Certainly, if you find a valid Bible translation that you enjoy reading, devotional reading is a lot easier to engage.  But its also true that the more reservations we carry into our pursuing spiritual disciplines, the harder they will be.

  • It is easy to not lie. It is much harder to not lie and yet have everyone perceive you exactly the way you would like to be perceived.
  • It is easy to not steal. It is much harder to not steal if you want to possess everything your heart desires.
  • It is easy to love God. It is impossible to love God while also loving yourself and the world.

The journey of becoming like Christ through sanctification gets way easier when you agree to leave behind all the baggage you are holding onto.  What in your life is making your Christian walk such a burden?  Are you angry at your parents or spouse about treatment you have received from them?  Are you jealous of someone who worked less hard than you but received more recognition?  Carrying all those burdens is doing Christian the hard way.

What would you be willing to let go?  It is your choice as to how you will travel but you will go much farther and much faster if you travel light.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
    your saving power among all nations.  Psalm 67:1-2

If you spend long enough in a company, you will begin to notice that the people there all have varying levels of commitment to it.  Some absolutely love the company’s product.  They believe in it.  They talk about it all the time and think everyone would be better off if they became a customer of the company.  Those people give of themselves, above and beyond, to the company.  Sometimes they will tell you, “I would do this for free.”  In business, we call those people “missionaries”.

At the other extreme, there will be those who think the company is useless or even harmful.  They think the company’s customers are fools.  When they walk out the door at 5:00 PM (or earlier if possible) they leave everything about the company behind them.  They don’t care whether the company succeeds or fails, as long as they get paid, and the minute a better opportunity opens up, they are gone.  Those people are called “mercenaries”.

It turns out that the community of Christians breaks down along the exact some continuum.  We have missionaries, and mercenaries, and all of us are somewhere on a spectrum between.  Bear in mind, even Christians who work for a “mission” can have a mercenary mindset about Christ, and, though I have never met one, it would certainly be possible for a military “mercenary” to be a missionary for the Lord.

So how do you know where you lie on that spectrum?  Our text for today has an important indicator, the word, “that”.  We all pray to be blessed.  But why do we seek God’s blessing?  The mercenary wants to be blessed for his own comfort. “Dear God, make me rich, comfortable and happy, so I can worry less, play more, and be the envy of all my friends.”

Missionaries pray to be blessed for a completely different reason.  They want the Lord’s blessing to draw others to Christ.  “Lord, please heal me of my hurts, to encourage all the other hurting ones to trust in You.”

If mercenaries don’t get what they want from God, they try something else.  There are, after all, lots of other “gods”.  Missionaries find the most joy in submitting to God’s response to their prayers, knowing that He is good and His plan is best.

It’s time to test your heart.  Why do you follow the Lord, for His glory, or your own?

Not so Mean Gold 

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?  Deuteronomy 10:12-13.

There are no more results.