We often, I think, hear two sides of Christianity. One is represented by the gentle invitation to enter into God’s presence. “Take your yolk upon me,” says Jesus. And who can resist the lush garden of refuge in Psalm 23?
The other is also an invitation, but a call in a sense to suffer. Dedication, commitment, and spiritual disciplines are highlighted. Following Jesus is tough stuff.
The thing is, I agree with both of those…so which is it?
God’s abundant presence that brings peace is indeed light and full of freedom. But discipline is not essential for resting in the arms of God; it’s essential in protecting ourselves from the wiles of this world…the works of the flesh. Israelites rescued from the burden of slavery in The Exodus did not trade in one oppression for another as they suffered in the desert. No, they wandered in the land between slavery and freedom; and as much as they were headed to The Promised Land, they were traveling out of Egypt. We are disciplined as Christians, not because of God but because of us. For sure, living the Christian life requires less when abiding in the Holy Spirit.
So the question is: How shall we run into the arms of God’s freedom; and how shall we order a life unshaped by oppression?