This coming January will mark my 11th anniversary as an ordained minister. It has been a hugely satisfying experience and I can scarcely imagine doing anything else. Ministry, as you can likely imagine, also has numerous challenges. Ministry is not easy. As I say that, I see many parallels with our life as a Christian. Those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ have not been left wanting. And yet, we who aspire to follow in the steps of our Saviour will readily admit that the road is not at all easy.
I’ve been encouraging those attending St. Giles Kingsway and The Well over the last couple of weeks to not over think what it means to be a Christian. The mandate for the Christian is not complex. It is actually quite simple. Jesus calls us, “Follow Me” (Mark 1:17). Everything the Christian needs to do falls under the umbrella of those two words.
Now, in saying that the mandate for the Christian is simple, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I’m saying that the mandate is easy. Following Christ is certainly not easy. Christ does not call us to easy things, but to things that are extremely difficult.
Jesus says that the person who is angry is in danger of Divine judgment (Matthew 5:22). He also says that the man who looks at a woman lustfully “has already committed adultery in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus challenges us to “turn the other cheek” when harmed (Matthew 5:39), and then He expands the exhortation by requiring that we “love our enemies” (Matthew 5:44).
Yes, following Jesus is extremely difficult!
With that being said, I’d like to offer you two words of encouragement. First, your getting into heaven does not depend upon your ability to obey God’s commands (Romans 3:28). Your performance does not affect your standing. Secondly, Jesus will help you to do that which He requires (Matthew 11:28-30).
We are not alone on this journey. We have help.
Moreover, one of the key points of the Christian Gospel is that Jesus has met the Divine standard on our behalf (Romans 3:21-25). Recognizing this frees a person from trying to earn God’s favour, and leads us to follow Christ motivated by love and gratitude.
That’s the track I want to be on.
I know I’ll never be ‘good enough’ for God by depending upon my own moral fitness. But I am eager to honour Him, and so I determine to follow closely, no matter how difficult the road ahead may be. Thankfully, I have help. I have a relationship with a strong Saviour. This is what we were designed for.
Have a listen to the message below, ‘Simply Difficult’, delivered on Sunday, September 14, 2008.