Friday, April 4, 2008

Is Following Jesus Really That Easy?

I was recently wandering around Wal*Mart, trying to escape from the store, when I saw this T-shirt. Wal*Mart was not selling it; rather, a young patron was proudly wearing it. The shirt got me thinking.

Is following Jesus really that easy? Is it supposed to be easy? Did God intend it to be easy?

That got me thinking about several different bible verses that shed some light on this subject.

Matthew 7:13-14: Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Matthew 10:37: Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 16:24: Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

Acts 14:22: Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

Philippians 1:29: For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.

II Timothy 3:12: Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

The above verses make it clear that if a person wants to be a follower of Jesus Christ, the life will be difficult. This is not to say that it won't also be wonderful, joyful, fulfilling, and thrilling. Most things in life that are worth anything require some effort, work, and sacrifice.

I'm not saying that we have to work for our salvation. Salvation is all through grace. After we are saved, however, the Christian walk is often difficult and painful. Just ask Christians living in places like China, North Korea, India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cuba, Belarus, and the entire Islamic-dominated world.

One reason that we have so many people in this country claiming to be Christians but not acting like it is that they view Christianity to be easy. This is called "easy-believism." This problem is plaguing the American church today. I wonder if this has anything to do with the way we present the gospel?

If we present the gospel by saying, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life," this suggests that being a Christian is easy. If, however, we say something like, "God created this world for his glory, you have rebelled against him, Jesus died on a cross for sin, etc.," then it becomes clear that a price has to be paid by the Christian.

Despite what this T-shirt says, living for Jesus is not easy. The rewards of following Christ are certainly worth the difficulty, but let's not think that serving Jesus is a simple walk in the park.

There is no "easy button" for being a Christian.

8 comments:

Rhea said...

My hope is that the "point" the shirt (and the person it) is trying to make is that salvation is "easy" in that it's through Jesus....we don't have to do 5,498 things to somehow earn our salvation. It is a free gift from God through Jesus.

I totally agree with what you're saying though. We were just talking about that the other night at a Bible study I attend...one of the speakers talked about how "The Good News" (the Gospel) always starts with bad news--we're sinners.

Alan said...

All of this "Jesus Junk" really angers me. Not only does the "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" make it sound easy, it also makes it sound optional. "If that just isn't for me then that's ok," but it's not ok, it is a command "repent and believe" and those who do not are tormented eternally in hell. No, it is not easy and to look to a T-shirt for assurance is surely a lie straight from the mouth of Satan.

Eric said...

Rhea,

I agree with you that we don't have to earn salvation, and in that sense it is easy.

When the gospel is presented like this T-shirt suggests, I find that sin is rarely mentioned. Jesus just comes across as a good idea.

Eric said...

Alan,

You make a great point about how many of today's evangelism presentations make Jesus seem optional. Think of the eternal damage that is caused by presenting Christ this way. I wish all tracts/presenations began with creation and the fall. Then they should quickly get to the law and our complete inability to keep it. That should get a lost person's attention.

Rhea said...

I had never thought before how when Jesus is presented as simply "having a great life for you" He's then being presented as simply an option....perhaps an "upgrade" if you will. Not that I present Jesus that way to others, but I never realised just HOW dangerous the Gospel of simply "your best life now" really is/was. That's good insight.

Brian said...

I saddens me that Christian T-Shirt companies lack creativity such that they have to plagerize other people's ideas instead of coming up with their own...

Sadly too, I used to wear these kinds of shirts but fortunately have grown up since then...

ps. I think the people who came up with the "God's Gym" T-Shirt got sued by the Gold's Gym company they were mimicking at the time. I guess some haven't learned their lesson just yet.

Eric said...

Rhea,

We, my self definitely included, could probably all benefit from taking time to think about exactly how we share the gospel. We certainly don't want to send the message that the gospel is something different than it is.

I'm glad that you are sharing faithfully. It's exciting to hear.

Eric said...

Brian,

I agree with you about Christian T-shirt companies. Christ's sacrifice is such a wonderful message; I wonder why that isn't good enough for some people.