The Church is often guilty of telling people to “come to Jesus” so that their lives will be easier. Historically, however, the lives of followers of Christ have been anything but easy. In the rather lengthy narrative of Paul’s life that makes up the reading for today, there is a strong realization that, if Paul wanted an easy life, he should have stuck with being a Pharisee. If being a follower of Christ were easy, then everybody would be doing it. Our natural inclination as humans, though, isn’t to choose what’s hard; it’s to choose what’s easy. To welcome Jesus into your life is to open yourself up to incredible challenges. It is a process of learning to die to yourself on a daily basis and giving up your desires of comfort and ease for the greater cause of Christ because of a heartfelt conviction that this Jewish carpenter lived, died, rose back to life, and appeared to many. For Paul, the road involved imprisonment, flogging, stoning, and eventual execution – all for the name of Jesus. Why did he do it? He had to. He knew that people needed to hear of the hope that was available to them in Christ. It was a hard road; it always is. But it is good, and the journey carries with it a joy beyond anything you might possibly imagine.
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Seth is a pastor, author, and speaker who lives in Batesville, Indiana. He is married to Kari, and they have two daughters, Madelyn and Noelle.