I stumbles upon a blog earlier this week, and the author wrote something that stopped me in my tracks. If I had been walking, it would have been a literal stop. She wrote
Christ is the source of everything we need and the giver of all good gifts … but in telling people about Him, it’s possible we’ve sold them on a solution for life’s problems and not life itself.
When I read those sentences, I had a simultaneous reaction of “Whoa!” and “Ouch!” I think we’ve all witnessed/experienced the self-help-how-to-improve-your-life version of Christianity, both in a church and how we live our own lives. If I only believe hard enough, love God enough, etc, then all my problems will disappear, or at least get easier. This thought, this way of thinking, is a lie. We can never have enough faith, never love God enough, never trust Him enough to do something that was never our responsibility.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
However, I think we often translate what Jesus said in our minds to say something more along the lines of: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will help you build your muscles so you can find rest. Take my yoke upon you, and once you’ve worked long enough, I will give you rest. Learn from me, and once you know enough, I will give you rest. I am gentle to those who deserve it and humble in heart to those who have also become humble enough. My yoke is easy once you’ve earned the easy yoke, and my burden is light once you’ve figured out how to carry everything better.”
The difference is quite obvious.
The question arises as to why the burden of Christ is easy. It certainly does not always feel easy. We still have to go through hard times. Bad things still happen to us and to our families. We still have to work at our jobs and pay our bills. We still have disappointments. If you just look at major life events, our lives don’t necessarily look any different after we’ve accepted Christ, and, the lives of millions of people around the world actually look worse because of the extreme persecution they face. I think the answer is not that Christ is a solution. However, His burden is easy because He is life itself.
I think Psalms 1 provides a great picture of the result of viewing Christ as Life
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
David compares a righteous man to a tree planted by a stream. Planting a tree near water was a smart thing to do. If there was a drought, it would take a lot longer for the river to dry up than it would the ground. If the source of the river is some place where there isn’t a drought, the river will continue to flow. The result is the tree continues to bear fruit. Water is the essence of life for the tree, and so placing it as close to water as possible ensures it will continue to live.
We are the same way. The closer we get to Life, the more likely we will continue to bear fruit in times of drought. When everything around us fails, when we have planted ourselves near the very essence of life, we do more than survive, we bear fruit. Our source never runs dry because it flows directly from the throne of God.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5
In the NIV, this passage is titled “The Restoration of Eden.” I believe Eden was restored on the cross. However, our lives are a journey of the revelation of that restoration, a realization we have access to not just the river, but to the Source.
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17
Let us continually be thirsty. However, don’t let the water of life merely quench your thirst, but let it be the source of Life itself. It is one thing to not feel thirsty, it is another to live. When you drink, don’t drink from a trickle that barely runs, but boldly walk up the river and drink from the Throne itself. Drink of Christ.