Outside the Door to the Christian Life
Jul 30, 2017 - Rev. Dr. Wes Allen
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In the early days of Christianity, it was hard to be a follower of Jesus. People who made the decision to follow Jesus risked the loss of friends, family, business, and even their life in rare occasions. Becoming a Christian certainly didn’t make life any easier and Jesus’ awaited return didn’t happen in their lifetime. Was it really worth it to live this difficult faith?
We face the same question today: Is following Christ worth it? Christians are not especially blessed – the rain falls on the just and the unjust, as Jesus says earlier in Matthew – and we people of faith add burdens on ourselves. We place expectations on ourselves to follow weekly rituals and spiritual disciplines, to act honestly, to love our neighbors, to vote according to Jesus’ values rather than our personal benefit, and to give our money to those in need. We take on a challenging burden to live faithfully.
Jesus’ parables about people selling everything to gain the reign of heaven are for a people who struggle with their faith and the burden of living faithfully. These stories really don’t make sense in a lot of ways, but they gain a treasure in the end. In the same way, taking on the burden of the Christian life doesn’t always make sense, but we have traded up for a great blessing. We are a people who are no longer held captive by hate, grudges, and violence. We have the gift of selfless love that lifts us up. These same burdens that we try to live up to are the treasures of heaven.
The Christian life is a gift that we receive in the faithful struggle, not a divine test for which a passing grade gains a later reward. If you’re waiting to get into the door of the Christian life, it’s found in the faithful struggle.
Food for Thought:
- Remember some of the struggles in your life that have turned out to be profound gifts. Meditate on how the struggle to follow Jesus may offer some of the same blessings.
- We often live as if a Christian’s hope lies only in the afterlife. How may God be inviting you to shift your priorities if the Christian life is a gift on this side of the grave?
- Joyful gifts are found in giving Christ-like love to others. Make plans to show that self-giving love to someone in your life who may need some care or affection.
May you enter the challenge of the Christian life and find deep treasure and knowledge of God as you live in the struggle to follow the way of Jesus. Amen.