Is the Christian Life Hard or Easy?
We recently covered Matthew 11:25-30 at Living Waters fellowship and talked about being yoked together with Christ. We are incredibly encouraged when we read this passage, because we are told that Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light. Peter tells us to cast all our cares upon God (1 Peter 5:7), and John tells us that God’s commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:4). While we know that there is great joy and freedom in following Christ, why does it seem that at times following Christ is hard or even burdensome? It brings us to the question that is often discussed: Is Christianity hard or easy? C.S. Lewis answered it this way in his book Mere Christianity:
The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much or work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good.”
While there are many reasons following Christ can seem difficult, I just want to focus on one reason here. Following Christ feels burdensome and difficult when we try and do it in our own strength or in our own way. We are not co-leaders with Christ; we were called to follow Him. Too often the Christian life can feel overwhelming because we try to follow Jesus with one part of our life and then fulfill our own desires with the other part. Jesus did not call us to give part of ourselves to Him; He called us to give Him our all. Once we become a Christian, we are yoked together with Christ. We are no longer enslaved to sin; we are now enslaved to Jesus. Since we are yoked to Christ, His burden is only light when follow Him fully. Ifwe start to pull in our own direction, if we start to follow after our own desires, His commands begin to feel burdensome.
Why, because we are now trying take some of the burden, we are trying to go on our own apart from His leading. When we try and give Jesus part of our life instead of the whole thing, life becomes difficult and burdensome. This weight and heaviness is not because Jesus is failing us; it is because we are pulling away from Him. We will struggle when we try and go half in, when we try to pull back control of our life. This is why, as Lewis states in his quote, half-measures are no good. We cannot follow Christ but then try and hold back parts of ourselves that we do not want to give over to Him. We will find that when we surrender fully to Jesus, the burden of following Him is light. It is light, not because our life will become extremely easy or comfortable, because we know that it won’t. The burden of life is light because He carries the weight of the burden when we follow Him. He gives us His strength and peace in the midst of hardship.
If you find life to be heavy and burdensome, seek Him. It is possible that you are still trying to walk this path in your own strength, or that you are trying to keep part of yourself back from Christ. The process of walking with Jesus and following Him is a daily decision. As we continue to surrender all to Him, we will find His yoke is easy and His burden is light!