Thursday, April 24, 2014

Simple and easy

I've been having a conversation with an old friend for the last couple of days.
By conversation, you understand, I mean an online communication wherein one person writes a few sentences then the other person responds, then back and forth it goes, stretched out over the internet rather than the kitchen table and cups of tea. I miss that kitchen table, I really do.
Nevertheless, I'm not so old a dog that I can't adjust (just barely).

My friend made a comment this morning that though life seems simple, it's never been easy.
I looked at that sentence for a long time, thought about my friend's particular life, about my own, about the lives of many, many other people I know. Sure, there are those who've had a fairly easy road, but most of us haven't. Life has bumps and bruises and fits and starts and mis-steps and failures and sin in it. None of those things are easy. Of course they aren't.

Perhaps an easy life is part of the 'wide gate.' "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and few find it." (Matthew 7: 13-14)

I'm not pretending to be a scholar (Please don't get me mistake me for one!), but I wonder. Is it just this simple? Rather than asking Him to make OUR way easy, maybe we should be asking to be made fit for the road He has prepared for us, no matter how hard the road is. God, who created us, died for us, redeemed us, gave us new life, tells us that in order to follow Him, we must take up our cross daily and follow Him. There's no ease in that. The way of the cross has Love in it, but not ease.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote of this idea in the first pages of his seminal work, Cost of Discipleship  (this is one of my alltime favorite quotes from any non-scriptural book!):

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Several pages later, Bonhoeffer writes, "When God calls a man, He bids him come die."
It's that simple, my friends. Daily dying to self. The costly grace by which we were bought asks this of us.
Not easy. No way, no how. It's the hardest thing in life. The life-long, never-ending battle.
But it is simple.


Pamela M. Steiner said...

I understand this post all too well. Been there, done that...still there, doing that. But there is an old song I used to sing, "He Giveth More Grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; to added affliction He addeth His mercy, To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!" By Annie Johnson Flint. Such true words I can personally attest I believe, so can you. This was wonderful.

Pamela M. Steiner said...

I hope you don't mind but I mentioned your post in my post about God's Grace just now. Your post was a springboard for these thoughts tonight. Thank you for always being an inspiration.