Soren Kiekegaard wrote:

“The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”

The problem is that he is right, and what he said is true. Because deep down sometimes my wish was that certain parts of following Jesus were optional.

I want to keep the “he loves me with grace” part. I want to keep the unconditional love, forgiveness, and mercy part. I want to keep the God sacrificing for me part. But when it comes to me giving grace freely I’m okay with it…the first time. I’m sort-of okay with it the second time. I’m less likely to be good with it the…77thtime…

But here is the point: giving grace, forgiving, and sacrificing aren’t optional parts of following Jesus. He says we are to love our enemies (Matt: 5:44). He says we are to forgive as we’ve been forgiven (Matt 6:12). He calls us to a life of sacrifice (Luke 9:23).

The truth is doing those things are hard. Doing those things are counter-cultural and they don’t make sense. Forgiving doesn’t make sense when you let go the hurts and slights that have happened. Giving grace to people who don’t deserve it, want it, or use it in the right way doesn’t make sense. Sacrificing your life for people who could care less doesn’t make sense. I’m not arguing that those things make sense, I’m simply arguing that those things are the way we follow Jesus.

We’d love to make following Jesus easy without grace, forgiveness, and sacrifice. But my guess is that the reason you are at all interested in Jesus is because of his grace, forgiveness, and sacrifice. If we are followers of Jesus, we then need to be followers in grace, forgiveness, and sacrifice. Jesus never promises following him will be easy; he simply promises it will be worthwhile and lead to life.

So while sometimes I wish some things in the Christian life were optional, I now know better. Because sometimes it is living out the hard things that give the most meaning…

So today, who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to show grace to? How can you sacrifice for God? And yes, it will be hard, but you’ll be being like Jesus…

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