The heat here [Cambodia] makes it quite hard to want to get out and do anything, really, but I am glad to report I was up bright and early today for a riverside jog/walk. And I almost enjoyed it. Almost.
You’ll have to forgive me if a lot of my object lessons recently have been about exercise and the physical side of things. It is taking a bit of my focus and energy right now, as I am working toward some “before forty” goals. (The clock is ticking!) But I am beginning to see why many of the NT writers used athletics and sports allegories to make their points about the spiritual life. There are so many parallels!
A number of years ago, a doctor said to me that—unless your weight gain was due to medical reasons—all you had to do to lose weight was to eat less and move more. It’s that simple. It comes down basic math, really. If your calorie intake is consistently less than the number of calories you burn day after day, you will begin to lose weight. This is not rocket science, folks!
However, “simple” does not necessarily mean “easy”.
Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows how hard it is to change lifestyle rhythms or habits. It is soooo difficult to pass up that extra helping, or that tempting snack. It is exhausting to submit your body to rigorous exercise and grueling to stick to disciplined daily routines.
Weight loss might be simple on paper, but it certainly is not easy.
In the same way, salvation is basically simple. You have a debt of sin that you could never repay. Jesus has paid the price in full, and offers to clear your account. You simply have to accept His gift and His Lordship in your life.
But there is nothing easy about the Christian walk. The dying to self, the denial of fleshly desires, the breaking and bending of the will to the Spirit’s control. None of this comes naturally. But it must be done, intentionally and regularly. Besides that, the world will heap us with abuse once it sees we are trying to do things differently, not living by its norms and standards.
The basics of salvation might be simple to grasp, but living it out on a daily basis is probably one of the hardest things a person can do.
We do a great disservice, I fear, when we minimize the cost of following Christ. When we promise a primrose-strewn path, leading not only to future Glory, but also to heaven here on earth. We mislead others if we do not prepare them for the rocky road ahead.
Of course we do not walk this path alone. We need not strive and strain in our own strength. We have a Helper always available to us. In fact, He is eager to do most of the work if we will just submit to His control. It’s that simple. But not that easy.
–by Deborah Wise