When I was a teenager growing up an hours drive from timberline of Mt Adam’s, one of the unwritten but fully understood “life rules” was “climbing Mt Adam’s is hard, very hard, but that is why you choose to do it.” In our culture today there are still a few who operate by that principle, but we have steadily moved in the direction of “hard is bad and easy is good.” One of the main messages of Jesus was “if you want to follow Me you must pick up your cross everyday.” Crucifixion was the most torturous, painful death invented by man, and the cross was a symbol of that pain. When Jesus said, “you must pick up your cross,” He was saying, “following Me is hard, very hard!”
One of the main selling points used today to persuade people to trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior in America is “Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life.” In many countries in the world today to become a Christian is to be ostracized from your friends and family, to be guaranteed a life of poverty because no one will hire you, and very possibly to be martyred for your faith.
Why would anyone choose to convert to Christianity then? Because only those who are followers of Jesus will inherit eternal life in heaven. Life is a blink of an eye in length and heaven is forever. To choose hard here in this life to get heaven forever is the smartest move anybody can make. Part of the problem is that people confuse free with easy. Salvation is free, Jesus paid the price of our sin, we don’t have to reach a certain level of holiness to get into God’s family, but once in we are asked by Jesus to “suffer hardship” as we serve Him.
Most Christians in the United States don’t suffer much because they choose not to do much with their life for the Lord. One little example is prayer, prayer doesn’t require any straining, sweat, or effort, you just sit there. But those who enter into the kind of praying that changes other people experience “hard.” It is a mystery in what makes it hard, and a little, convenient praying isn’t really very hard, but the number who choose to spend some serious time interceding for others is small, and it is small for a reason.
JBC started our “Five Days of Prayer” this morning. We pray from 5:00 to 10:00 am each morning and 5:00 to 10:00 pm each evening. Many in our church choose not to come at all, some come for an hour or two, but there are some who choose the hard way and spend several hours each of the five days praying because they believe that it will make a difference in the eternal destiny of many.