IF IT WERE EASY, everyone would do it. Some people just make things look easy. In June, Matt and I will be married 25 years, but it hasn’t been easy no matter how you view us. Marriage is hard work- worthwhile, wonderful, fulfilling work; but nonetheless hard. Ministry, church planting, pastoring is hard and toilsome work. Here’s a real stat for you: approximately 80% of church plants fail within 5 years. Why? Because it’s hard. We have wise children that love and serve the Lord, but it’s a hard work to train and discipline in righteousness. Biblical training is hard work. Exercising regularly and eating healthy to stay in shape is hard work. Crucifying the flesh and saying no to my selfishness is hard work. Just being me is hard. I die daily.
Just because someone makes it look easy, doesn’t mean it’s easy. I learned as a child that complaining doesn’t work, so I’m not a complainer. I will just put my head down and do what needs to be done. I’m a hard worker, but that doesn’t mean I’m not hurting or it’s not painfully hard, I just don’t complain. Jesus answered a question with a stark remark,
“Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:23-24
Strive to enter the narrow gate. This is the Greek Word pronounced “agōnizömai”; meaning “to struggle, to compete for a prize, to endeavor to accomplish something; fight, labor”. Doesn’t sound like an easy word to me. It’s where we get the English word, “agonize”. The “narrow” gate spoken by our Lord is translated as a gate of “affliction”. Meaning the way into eternal life is full of difficulty and affliction and we agonize and fight to win the prize. Doesn’t sound like “easy believism” to me. “Many”, indicating a large number, will seek to enter in but will not be able to.
Seeing the current atmosphere, I can see why the Lord said this. Most are not willing to take up their cross of affliction and follow Him outside the gate. The Christian walk is not for the faint of heart. It’s not the easy way, but rather the path less traveled. The narrow path requires discipline in righteousness, a crucifying of the flesh, grit, no fear of man or fear of death. It requires a firm separation from the world and all the offends a holy God and the courage to face a world that hates you. Read about Paul’s life, Peter’s life, John, Elijah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, the NT Christians and so on.
Maybe you thought these people made it look easy, but their path was full of difficulties and affliction. Yet, they ran with JOY. Yes, you can have joy in affliction and peace in pain. Why? Because our joy is supernatural. Joy will spur you on to keep agonizing and running the race. The joy of the Lord is my strength. Will you stop complaining? Keep your eyes on the end prize. IF it were easy, everyone would do it.
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