Tuesday, July 11, 2006

There Are No Shortcuts

Someone once asked Tiger Woods if he would give him a shortcut or two that would improve his golf game. Woods said, "There are no shortcuts."

True in golf (believe me, I know!). True in Christianity, too. Being a mature follower of Jesus Christ takes time and effort. It isn't easy, either. G.K. Chesterton said, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been tried and found difficult."

We're bombarded with shortcuts as Christians. If you doubt that, walk into a Christian book store and browse for a while. "Say this prayer every day and God will bless your life!" "What Would Jesus Do?" (I don't think He'd spend $17.95 for a hat with the letters WWJD on it.) "You can have success, health, and wealth by saying all the right words in the right order and having a lot of faith." All of these are shortcuts and all of them are wrong.

Being a disciple (literally "a learner" or follower) of Jesus involves much time and more effort. Prayer isn't always easy - it can be excruciatingly hard sometimes. Bible reading and study isn't always exciting - there are times when it's boring and confusing. Fellowship with other Christians isn't always a pleasant experience - we rub each other the wrong way a lot. Gathering for worship isn't always the best experience - there are times when we'd rather be anywhere else than in church on Sundays. Serving and ministering to others is often very difficult for a number of reasons.

Having said all that, the only way to be a mature follower of Jesus Christ is to put in the time and the effort because there are no shortcuts. Maybe that's why so many people shy away from it. It's hard and we have to do things we don't always want to do. The good news is, though, that God forgives our sin and gives us the ability to actually do what He's called us to do.

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23 - ESV)


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