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The Easy Life

The Easy Life

They will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. Mark 13:9

In our addictions, most of us eventually cause ourselves tremendous misery. Pursuing destructive behavior inevitably leads to destructive consequences. Often, it’s only when the discomfort has become unbearable, that we become willing to commit to a different life. In following God, instead of ourselves, we find freedom. On this new path, we believe life will improve, which it almost assuredly does. It’s easy then, to draw a line between faith and prosperity. If I follow God, he will bless me with money, success, and toys. He wants me to be rich and happy.

The problem with this kind of faith is that in it, we’re still clinging to the old way of thinking, believing that satisfaction comes from the temporary and material. If I follow God, he’ll give me that new car I’ve been wanting. This belief is a selfish remnant of the old life that is about as far as it can be from the life of faith.

In today’s passage, Jesus promised his closest followers that following him would not be an easy life. He told them they’d be arrested and beaten for his name. In fact, most of them went on to die violent deaths. Those who follow God are not promised material success.

This does not mean that our lives don’t improve immeasurably when we stop causing our own disaster. Paul promised that those who sow the seeds of the spirit – instead of the seeds of the flesh – will find authentic, eternal life. There is a profound experiential difference between self-inflicted misery and the trials of life that aren’t our own doing.

Life is hard, filled with adversity. That is just our reality. But life can also be wonderful, filled with joy. The difference between joy and misery though isn’t necessarily in our circumstances, but rather in the orientation of our lives. Christ’s disciples found a contentment – even in persecution – that they never would have known otherwise. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Are we following ourselves or God? In following ourselves, we find misery. In following God, we find peace, joy, and meaning – despite our circumstances.

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