No promise of an easy road

Published 9:18 pm Friday, February 24, 2017

By Rev. Chris Surber

Christianity is hard. In Matthew 10:38 Jesus says, “If you refuse to take up your cross and follow Me, you are not worthy of being Mine.” (NLT)

In another place, He has the audacity to tell a rich young man that he has to sell everything he owns in order to be His disciple. “You want to follow me?” Jesus asks. “You must sell it all. I must be the only thing you possess.”

Email newsletter signup

The emphasis of Jesus was sacrifice. The emphasis today is ease of access. Simply pray a prayer and you’re in the club. Want to volunteer in the nursery? Great! You get a crown of glory!

The trouble with a version of Christianity that is easy and offers your best life now simply on the condition of a prayer and a membership card is that it is utterly inconsistent with the Christianity of Jesus.

Jesus preached a message of metaphorical death to self and the great possibility of actual physical suffering and death in this life.

In Matthew 10:22, Jesus says, “And all nations will hate you because you are My followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.” (NLT)

Hated. They’ll hate you. They’ll beat you. You’ll suffer. That is the Christianity of Jesus, but it isn’t the Christianity of today, at least not in our experience.

Christianity is hard, and God is mysterious. In the biblical book that bears his name, we see Job afflicted with many trials by the Devil, and it happens with the permission of God.

When Job and his friends begin to question why God would allow such suffering, they receive a startling response from their maker: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you know so much.” (Job 38:4 NLT)

God is mysterious. The deepest truths of the nature of God and His relationship to man are not immediately practical. The Bible is not a user manual for a better life. God is not a genie in a bottle, waiting to answer our wishes.

Christianity is hard, and God is mysterious. If you are looking for a way to make this life better, you shouldn’t sign up. If you are looking for a way to solve your immediate problems, you should look somewhere else.

But if you are looking for hope that transcends immediate trials and answers the deepest longings of your heart for love that cannot fail, you may want to consider Jesus.

If you are interested in meaning that conquers fear of dying and the pain of living, Jesus may have something to say to you.

C.S. Lewis said it this way, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in.’: aim at earth and you get neither.”

Simple, honest Christianity is the difficult matter of finding joy in sacrifice. God is mysterious and beautiful.

Rev. Dr. Chris Surber is the pastor at Liberty Spring Christian Church. Email him at