Would you rather take the elevator or climb the steps to the top of the Empire State building? Taking the stairs rather than the elevator is good advice to get fit. Some people actually run up the 1,576 steps of the Empire State Building. The elevator is much easier. Easy is rarely the right choice for Christians. Please read more…….
Todd, a regular reader of the 4th Day Letters, recently shared this picture with me. His email and this picture inspired today’s message.
This picture, which has been widely circulated on Facebook, makes the point that the path of Christianity is not an easy one. We read the following in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”
How many of us have either chosen the easy elevator ride or chosen to drive the broad and wide roads of life? It has often been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but the fact is, Christianity is challenging. Living a Christ–centered life is often a struggle. To be fully Christian means living a life of constant conversion. It means dying to ourselves in order to live for Christ.
Let’s go back to my opening paragraph about climbing the stairs. A Harvard Medical School report shows that climbing stairs is good for us. It is a good aerobic exercise; it burns calories and strengthens our lower body. We also know that muscle soreness after a healthy stair climb often occurs as a result of our body’s response to the increased challenge. In order to achieve the health benefits of stair climbing, we must be willing to accept the ensuing soreness to improve our well-being. It has often been said: “no pain, no gain.” The same can be said for the life of a Christian.
The struggle to live a good Christian life is worth it. As Christians, we must constantly reject the easy choices in life that seem only to satisfy our fleshly urges and desires. As Christians, we must acknowledge our broken condition and work with God’s grace to change our ways. G.K. Chesterton writes: “We are often not what we ought to be.” The allure of chasing fame, power, wealth, prestige, sex, drugs, big homes, nice cars and other fancy trappings is so tempting. Our modern culture tells us to choose the things in life that make us happy.
The real truth is this: persecution, sacrifice, poverty, conflict, and yes, sometimes even family division, awaits those of us who choose to serve the Lord. Christianity is not a comfortable life, but one thing is for sure, it is fulfilling and worth the effort.
Jesus told us, “In the world you will have trouble” He also said this in Luke 14:27: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 13:23-24 recounts this story: “Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” Finally, there is this familiar verse from Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
Ten of the original twelve apostles died as martyrs. Most of us will not be asked to pay such a heavy price. The Bible encourages us to persevere in the faith. While it is true that it says this in Acts 14:22: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” This should not make us sad. As Christians, our life should be filled with hope, joy, peace, love, richness and fulfillment.
Just because we believe in Jesus, our problems will not be over. There are times when Jesus instantly frees people from their addiction or from some other problem. Usually, however, those who come to Jesus Christ find that they continue to have the same problems to deal with. The difference is that Jesus is there to help shoulder the cross. Perhaps God allows us to go through difficulties so that we will learn to rely on Him and not on our own strength.
We must trust in the Lord with all our heart (Proverbs 3:5). We must strain forward for the prize God has ready for us (Philippians 3:13-14). We must persevere in our race (Hebrews 12:1).
Let’s make the commitment today to avoid following the crowds. Let not get caught in the traffic on the highway to Hell. Let’s not opt for the easy elevator ride. Instead, let’s lace up our shoestrings, and prepare ourselves for the hard climb ahead as we head through the narrow gate and make our way up the stairway to Heaven.
Heavenly Father when I rely on my own abilities the challenges of this life are daunting and sometimes seem impossible. Give me the strength Lord to carry my cross and follow your Son Jesus. He alone is the way to everlasting life, amen.
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