Why Is Christianity So Hard?

Illuminare65dForget all the religiosity, Christianity is not hard and salvation is so simple, though some like to make it seem so difficult. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:30) The Amplified Bible translates that as: “For my yoke is wholesome (useful, good – not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and my burden is light and easy to be borne.” That’s like someone saying, “I’m easy to get along with, I don’t impose or inconvenience people.” Jesus is a cool dude, and if our experiences don’t match what he said we must be doing something wrong. Jesus can’t lie. This is someone who calls himself the Truth, and who began statements with “Verily, verily…” meaning, “I tell you the truth…” So what are we not getting right, and what false notions are we holding on to?

To be sure, some of the stuff we say don’t bear any correlation to the philosophy of Jesus. His message was counterintuitive, which is why we struggle. People struggle with the doctrine of grace for instance. Yet grace is at heart of Christianity. Grace is radical. This is what the Message Bible translation of Matthew 11:30 says: “Walk with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (MSG) If we don’t understand grace Christianity will always seem difficult. But the problem many times is that people are trying to please God using the standards of the Old Testament – the Law of Moses. And you can’t please God through the Ten Commandments. We’re not under the dispensation of the Ten Commandments. It’s no longer applicable. Paul said so – “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the Law (Ten Commandments). Instead you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” (Romans 6:14 NLT) Funny thing is, what we call the Ten Commandments is actually 611 commandments! Our error in studying the Word of God is how we came about “Ten Commandments.” And what with Charlton Heston climbing that mountain in that famous movie, TEN COMMANDMENTS and bringing back two stone tablets with ten Roman numerals written on them! Here’s how the error came about.

Moses was the in-betweener for God and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. God would speak to Moses, who would then go and deliver the message to the Israelites– who then responded with their answer, which Moses took back to God. If you read Exodus 19:1-7 you’ll see this. But God wanted the Israelites to trust Moses as a political leader, to place faith in him. (This was a nascent nation). And so he decided to give an open legislative backing to Moses. These were a very stubborn lot if you remember. They were so recalcitrant God called them “stiff-necked.” (Exodus 32:9) Though in fairness they’re not much different from us. Anyway, God called a constitutional conference. In preparation for the conference God told Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses so the people themselves can hear me when I speak to you. Then they will always trust you.” (Exodus 19:9) God came with sirens, strobe lights and elemental convoy, like the potentate he is: “On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lighting flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled. Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended upon it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently.” (Exodus 19:16-18) That was Guest arrival at the constitutional conference.

Like all constitutions, God started with a preamble: “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.” Then he gave the first, the second, the third…up to the tenth commandment. But at that point the fire, smoke, earthquake and lightning proved too much for the people. The whole thing was too terrifying. ‘And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”’ (Exodus 20:19) Whereupon Moses went into the mountain to meet with God to collect the remaining 601 commandments. So it wasn’t as if the whole of the commandments were ten. It was just that after the first ten the people panicked. The 11th commandment states that the people must not make any idols of silver or gold to rival God. The 12th commandment gave specification for the building of the altar. And on and on the commandments went. So there is really nothing like the “Ten Commandments.” There are 611. And you can’t please God keeping 10 out of 611 commandments, assuming you can even keep all ten. That’s 1.64% compliance rate. And under the Law, if you break one commandment you’ve broken ALL: “For whoever keeps the Law as a whole but stumbles and offends in ONE single instance has become guilty of breaking ALL of it.” (James 2:10) It’s a break one, break all system! Now we know why Paul said, “So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the Law.” Even Moses agreed: “Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the Law code to live right before God soon discovers it’s not so easy – every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape right living in us is a different story…” (Romans 10:4 MSG)

But there’s a stronger reason not to put yourself under the jurisdiction of the “Ten Commandments” – there’s a curse attached: “But those who depend on the Law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s book of the Law.” (Galatians 3:10)

The question then is, why was the Ten Commandments given in the first place? The Bible says the “Ten Commandments” were given to disclose and expose men to their guilt because of transgressions, and to make men more conscious of the sinfulness of sin. (Galatians 3:19) In other words, the purpose of the Law was to stimulate consciousness of sinfulness. Romans 3:20 (NLT) says, “The Law simply shows us how sinful we are.”

But the Law had a time lapse built into it: “It was intended to be in effect until the Seed (Christ) should come.” (Galatians 3:19) And now that Jesus has come, the Law is no more operational! Jesus is the end of the Law. (Romans 10:4) Jesus said he came to accomplish the purpose of the Law not abrogate it. (Matthew 5:17) But Romans 10:4 says, “For Christ has already accomplished the purpose of the Law.” The regime of the Ten Commandments is over! We need to modify the curriculum of Sunday School. We keep teaching kids to obey the Ten Commandments when the Bible says we’re not under the Law but under grace. “We are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the Law.” (Romans 3:28)

But listen to what Paul further says: “What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.” (Romans 3:27-28 MSG) In other words, we just need to be responsive to the Spirit of God. Dynamic responsiveness is God’s concept of Christianity. Just follow the leading of the Spirit – that gut affirmation you have on the inside of you, that knowing, those inner nudges; that thing that seems to drop into the space between your chest and your stomach like a weighted pulse as you pray in tongues and you just “understand” what it means in human language… That’s the leading of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is our “Counsellor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthened, Standby.” (John 16:7 AMP) He’s also our Comforter. Jesus wants us to have a tight bond with Him, to relate to Him on a daily basis matter-of-factly. Just like Moses relayed information between God and the Israelites, so the Holy Spirit relays the thoughts of Jesus to us. “He will take from me and deliver it to you,” Jesus said. (John 16:15) The Holy Spirit is the key to successful Christian living.

But here’s something else Jesus did to make Christianity easy– he collapsed all the 611 commandments into two. Just two! The first commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.” Matthew 22:37 MSG) Jesus said it’s the most important commandment. And the second is, “Love others as well as you love yourself.” Jesus said “these two commands are pegs; EVERYTHING IN GOD’S LAW AND THE PROPHETS HANG ON THEM.” (Matthew 22:37-40) So if you love God and you love your neighbour you have fulfilled all those 611 commandments, plus more!

God is more interested in RELATING to you as his child than in your observance of legalistic dos and don’ts. “What marvellous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it – we’re called children of God!” (1 John. 3:1) God went to great lengths to make us his children. He used an interesting legal device called righteousness.

Righteousness is a very technical term. It is God’s operating system, as well as imprint of his royalty and authority. Constitutionally, righteousness refers to God’s sovereign rights, as well as rights devolved from that exercise of power. As sovereign, God exercised his prerogative of mercy, pardoning our sins, giving us fresh start. We were criminals on death row, but he adopted us as sons, making us co-heirs with Christ! (Romans 8:15-17) Technically we have the same constitutional rights as Jesus. We are joint heirs with him. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 8:17)

Implementing this program required serious legal, constitutional and biological engineering. Jesus had to take on the political title of “Adam” in order to stand in a representative capacity for mankind. (1 Corinthians 15:45) That’s why he had to come as a man. Without incarnation he couldn’t obtain blood for atonement and die. God can’t die. He then assumed vicarious liability of our sins, though he was a sinless and good man. And so in Adamic mode he was able to devolve acquittal to all mankind having paid the price for sin. The rule of double jeopardy applies. We cannot be tried again for sin if we accept Jesus. No one can arraign us for sin. It’s why Paul confidently declared, “There is no condemnation to those who belong to Christ.” (Romans 8:1) That’s legal stuff he’s talking about…criminal law. “Condemnation” is a legal terminology. We’re no longer on death row. Our discharge AND acquittal has been secured by Jesus. Jesus paid for our salvation with his blood. Blood is spiritual currency. We were cleared of criminal guilt by his sacrifice, not because of anything we did, or how good we are. The Bible calls trying to earn God’s approval by self-effort and personal morality “self-righteousness.” The problem with self-righteousness is that it has no legal standing. That’s why it has no efficacy in heaven or on earth.

But how about our daily sins? God says if you mess up, fess up: “If we confess our sins he’s faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9) Believe God.

Here’s the conclusion of the whole matter: Love God. Love your neighbour. Respond to the Spirit of God. That’s all!


If you’ll like to give your life to Christ please pray this prayer: “Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I know that I am a sinner. I believe Jesus died for me and that you raised him from the dead. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Christ is Lord and I receive him as my Lord and my Saviour. I am now born again. Amen.”

If you have any questions you can write me. Just mail me at talk2me@lekealder.com. I’d be glad to answer your questions.