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.