Okay, be honest. Raise your hand if you take the escalator instead of the stairs. I do too. It’s way easier and more fun isn’t it?
Have you ever noticed how much our culture thrives on making things convenient? Some things are helpful, like a microwave that cooks your food faster than the oven does. Some are just plain silly, like the self stirring mug. And then there are things that were never meant to be convenient, but are treated like they can be. Somehow, relationships have fallen into that last category in our culture.
But when it comes to relationships, especially as believers in Christ, there is no “easy button” to push. Loving God and loving others requires effort and commitment. It will cost us time, energy, money, resources. That kind of marketing doesn’t sell well in a culture that’s constantly looking for the path of least resistance. But the path of least resistance isn’t always the better choice. Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Our nature is to take the path of least resistance. We want to put in the least amount of effort and get the best results. What if Jesus had had that same mentality? He certainly wouldn’t have laid down His own life for us, would He have? And if He wasn’t committed to taking the punishment for our sins, then there would be no way for us to stand before God and be declared “not guilty”. Praise God that Jesus didn’t settle for the path of least resistance! Instead, He was whipped and beaten, and He walked up a hill carrying a heavy wooden cross through a crowd of people who were spitting on Him and mocking Him. And He was nailed to that cross and suffered the worst kind of death known to man, and He was forsaken by God so that we wouldn’t have to be. The ironic thing is that it’s through no effort of our own that we’re forgiven. We’re saved only by grace through faith in Him.
Make no mistake though. It wasn’t convenience that saved us, it was commitment. Jesus is committed to you and me, so much so that He was willing to die for us. And if we want to follow Him, there’s no handy gadget that will make it easier to do so (unless you call the Bible and the Holy Spirit “gadgets”). Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-26, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
Jesus is calling us to the same level of commitment that He has shown us. If we truly want a deep, intimate relationship with Christ, it’s going to cost us our lives. It’s going to take effort on our part. We’re going to have to skip the escalator and take the stairs. If we seek convenience, we’ll fall short of God’s best for us. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:7-11, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Jesus said in Luke 14:27, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” There’s a reason we call it committing your life to Christ. Jesus didn’t die for our convenience, He died for our commitment – that we might receive His free gift of forgiveness and commit the rest of our lives to following Him in obedience to His commands.
Is Jesus convenient for you, or are you committed to Him? Isn’t it time to meet Him at the cross, take up your own, and follow Him?
Trod the narrow path. It’s not easy, but it’s worth every step.