Well, I’m at it again. I’ve always loved watching little sermon snippets from Francis Chan and other pastors on YouTube. In Mexico, though, I always seemed too busy to find the time. Now I’m back in the States, two days from when I’ll be posting my next regular blog post. I’ve got nothing. During Mexico, my stockpile of ready-to-go blog posts slowly slipped away amongst the medical crusades and tasks of everyday life until now I’ve got nothing.
Inspiration is a fickle thing. Try as I might to search out interesting and valuable topics to speak on, I’m usually dependent on a sudden burst of that coveted substance after a week of fruitless brainstorming to write all of my best articles. My usual fall-backs in such unfortunate circumstances is to either a post on a section of the Bible (funny how one can find such ready inspiration in a book written by a Deity) or on an idea from a sermon snippet on YouTube. Seeing as I’ve done numerous posts on Bible chapters or books recently, I figured I would take the latter option this time.
That brings us to today. One of my favorite snippets from Francis Chan is on what it really looks like to follow Christ and the absurdity of many of the assumptions we make of what is expected from us.
THE NEW MIDDLE ROAD
You all know about the “Highway to Hell”. I’m assuming most of you are also familiar with the narrow path to Life. But did you know, that recently someone has discovered a third, middle road? Indeed folks, no longer will all of us be called to a “radical” life of taking every command of Christ as something literal, but we can now rest assured that we have our very own road paved for us where we can do most of the stuff Jesus taught, but without all the discomfort and time spent pursuing a “higher calling”.
That’s right, we get it easy. No more “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8), we can just sit back and let Him come to us. There’s no need to follow all those confusing commandments to pursue Christ, we can just “do them in our heart” and be fine!
A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
Alright, sarcasm done. What?? I understand that in our comfort-centered culture it may seem absurd to turn away from your safety and comfort to follow something, even God, but nowhere in the Bible do we see any mention of such a “Middle Road”. Nowhere is there evidence of this lukewarm half-hearted following of Christ being even close to equal to putting your faith into action and actually doing the things you claim to believe.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
No one. There’s no other way. There’s no other road we can take, no other path our feet can carry us down. We aren’t saved by our own power. Not by our works, not by what we say, not by Mary, not by any other deity out there. There’s one way.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” – John 14:15
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” – 1 John 2:4
Again, I’m not advocating works-based salvation here. He never said we’d obey Him every time or that we’d never fail. But there’s a big difference between desiring and putting forth effort to obey what He says and not lifting a finger off your recliner. If we love Him, that will at some time be reflected sooner or later.
I assume you’ve played Simon Says before. You know, “Simon says pat your head”, you pat your head. Simple enough. It’s interesting, though, that Jesus says is a far different game. If Jesus says it, you just have to memorize it. Imagine my mom told me to clean my room. Wouldn’t she be so very pleased if I came back a couple hours later and said to her proudly, “Hey Mom, I memorized what you said. I can say it in Greek! In fact, some friends and I are going to get together and have a study on what it would look like if we cleaned my room.” I don’t imagine she’d be very thrilled. Of course she wouldn’t! For me to think that simply memorizing her command to clean my room was sufficient to fulfill the requirement is absurd.
So why do we do that with Christ? In our church culture we seem to have created this idea that in order to follow Christ, all you need to do is learn what He said, not apply it. That’s reserved for the “radicals” or those “called to that sort of thing”. “Normal Christians” aren’t required to make such extreme sacrifices or throw ourselves into such uncomfortable situations. Yet, when I read the Bible, I can’t find so absurd an idea anywhere. Instead, I find a Christ who bids us come and die with Him. It won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t be comfortable, but notice the key word: “with”. He doesn’t call us to anything more unbearable than what He bore, and He promises to be with us in it all. Not to pull us out of it, but to walk in the midst of it with us.
I know that’s not as comfortable as believing we don’t have to go through all those things. It certainly would be a lot less painful. But comfort isn’t our reason for being on Earth. We’ve got Heaven to look forward to for that. Here, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than on that narrow little road by the cliffside, closely following the Guide that’s sure to lead us to the right destination.