Following Christ is hard. Living the Christian life well is hard. The Bible is filled with hard teachings. We are called to love others, even those who hate us.
There have been times during the course of history when the call to love and to love well and to love everyone was considered the ultimate goal of Christianity. That love alone trumps every other truth of the Bible. And, if it were true that we could boil down the whole Bible to the simple truth: Love others, then Christianity might not be quite so hard to live out. If we could say that nothing matters more than loving others, then we would never be hated. We would never have to say hard things to one another. We would never have to speak truth that is unpopular.
But, the Bible has one other major command in it that cannot be ignored. The command is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And that command, to love God with all we have an all we are, demands that we are obedient to our Father. It means that we wrestle with our sins. It means that we stand up for the truth of His word. It means that we sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron, using the word of God to guide our every choice, every motive.
The Ten Commandments were handed down to Moses, not just to give us a set of rules follow, but to give us a clear way to see how far we are from the holiness of a perfect God, to show us how much we need a Savior in Jesus Christ. And, when Jesus arrived, He made it so clear that it isn’t the “rules” that matter, but the spirit behind the rules, which is one of total obedience, complete surrender to the God who loves us, who saves us, and, yes, who demands that we turn away from our sin and reach for a better way of living. A huge part of that way of living is loving others. But, there is much more to it. And, the other stuff? It’s a lot more involved that just saying “I love you.” It is laying down your life for others. It is laying down your life before a holy God, chasing Jesus’ example of living with love, with reverence for God, with hatred for sin, with humility of spirit, and with the knowledge that we are unworthy of His care and blessings. This way of living is being unpopular, even hated, for trying to kill off the sin in our lives, and it is being scorned for saying that we should.
And that is why Christianity is hard.
I know many who read this will laugh, scoff, tell me I’m ignorant, uneducated, naïve, brainwashed, and who knows what else. But, there is one authority in my life: the Word of God. So, throw stones as you see fit. My God can take it.
And, with His strength, I can, too.