Just Stop It. It’s Easy
A scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Matthew 8:19-20
The first time I heard it in church, it intrigued me. “If you’re stuck in some addictive, destructive behavior, just stop it. It’s that easy. Just don’t do it anymore.” Why hadn’t I thought of that? Why didn’t I just quit using drugs? So, I just decided to not do it anymore . . . and proceeded to fail miserably.
Now, when I hear it, honestly, it angers me. I was hopelessly addicted, in desperate need of help, and what I got from those who should know best was ignorant, fanciful, useless advice.
As Christians, we use grace to pretend that faith is easy. Since we aren’t saved by our works, but by grace, we tell others that salvation is free. Just say the magic words. You don’t have to do anything. In our effort to spread the faith, we become sleazy salesman. Jesus was no peddler of cheap trinkets though. In today’s passage, when a scribe proclaimed his desire to become a disciple, Christ warned him. Following me isn’t easy. I don’t even have a home. Count the cost (my paraphrase).
We do a shameful disservice to the lost and addicted when we tell them how simple faith and recovery is. Salvation may be a free gift from God – we cannot earn it – but if we truly want the new life, it costs us the old one. Saying goodbye to the old life is difficult and painful.
This is why Christ warned against flippant pseudo-commitment. He knew that only those who were desperately sick of the old life would be willing to do whatever it takes to find the new one. Those who sort-of want faith and recovery, while living only for themselves, will never find God.
We shouldn’t tell others how easy it is to recover and have faith. What we must tell others though, is that as difficult as it is to leave the old life, the new life is absolutely worth it. We should be able to speak of the fantastic joy we’ve found in abandoning our old misery to daily find our new life, purpose, and freedom in Christ. The new life isn’t easy, but it’s amazing.