I’m not sure this is a post you are going to want to read, that is if you are used to most blog postings giving you more and more tips on how to make life just a little easier. In fact, I’m not even sure that I want to write this post.
Because, it seems a little silly and even hyperbolic to think in these terms. Why would we ever want to make our lives more difficult? It seems to be the complete opposite of everything we have been taught.
That is why I have so much respect for missionaries, foreign and domestic. So many of these brave souls will forsake their country, culture, and comfort for the chance to tell people about Jesus and to love on folks who don’t know him. We see this same willingness to suffer written on the lives of those who serve their country or community.
Likewise, we witness this in the attitude of Jesus. In the first part of the gospel reading this week it says that Jesus “set his face towards Jerusalem”. The short of it is, he was walking straight to his death. He knew what awaited him there, but he set his course.
He knew this course would save many, even if it meant sacrificing himself.
So, this got me thinking about what we could do to follow Jesus in light of this reading. How do we make our lives more difficult to gain something much greater?
Here are three thoughts on how you could make your life more difficult.
To follow Jesus.
1. Do the opposite.
One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes (yes, I am kind of stealing Trevor’s schtick here) is when George resolves to do the complete opposite of what he would normally do to get a woman. And guess what? It worked. And it illustrates a really important idea.
Sometimes doing the opposite of what culture, family, or even yourself wants of you is more along the lines of what Jesus would do than we realize. While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, think about it. Everything about our culture says that wealth, security, power, and influence lead to happiness. Yet, I don’t have to write a doctoral thesis for you to know this isn’t true. Some of the more messed up and dysfunctional folks who walk amongst us have these things.
So, what if we chose the opposite way? What if we decided that there are more important things than money or power? Could we manage with less?
Or, what about the people we spend our time around? Our churches and Christendom in general tell us to stay away from the very folks that Jesus called his friends. While we need to protect ourselves of course, this would be a path that would likely lead to losing reputation and stature but would be walking the way of Jesus.
2. Take the long way.
This is a different way of expressing the idea that instant gratification and shortcuts rarely make for a lot of meaning in this world. Often the good stuff of life takes hard work and suffering to reap any fruit. Whether it is purging additions, restoring a relationship, or even getting in better shape – these things take time and work. Jesus spent a majority of his life as a typical guy before he revealed himself as the messiah. Jesus took the long way. So should we.
3. Ask lots of questions.
People who ask questions as a part of an organization or group tend to be known as troublemakers. The truth is most folks are threatened by questions, myself included. Often we will spend more time trying to root out the meaning behind the question than actually attempting an answer.
So, if you see something that is wrong, ask about it. The question “why” might be annoying from a small child, but is the thorn in the paw of the devils work in this world. When we start to ask the “whys” of poverty and injustice, the answers will move us to action. And sometimes, a harder road.
So this weekend as you enjoy a long holiday think about what it means to walk a harder road like Jesus. What are some ways you have made things harder intentionally that have shown you the work of Jesus? Share with us!