Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.
G. K. Chesterton
Too many of us feel a little guilty when we read Chesterton’s statement. To be a disciple of Jesus is not easy. Who wants to turn the other cheek? Which of us is willing to share another’s burden? Sell my possessions and give the money to the poor? Don’t be ridiculous.
Clarence Jordan (author of Cotton Patch Gospel) wrote about admirers of Christ and Disciples of Christ. We can be an admirer of Jesus and be a selective Christian who chooses one or two points of Jesus’ teachings that suit us and feel self-righteous while dismissing the rest. Or, we can choose to be a Disciple of Jesus and pick up our cross each day and follow him (Luke 9:23) by committing ourselves to conform our lives to His Gospel.
Today there is such emphasis on God’s judgment that we forget that the Gospel is about love. God’s Law, is a law of love, not of fear. Sadly, fear of the Lord is over emphasized because we humans tend to respond to fear more than to love. St. Paul reminds us that we, “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8)
Shocking? No. Christians are not above the law, but by following Jesus’ command to “Love God and Love Neighbor;” they will more than fulfill the law. St. Paul explains it thus:
“You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and all other commandments are summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:9)
So, back to Chesterton, has Christianity failed? Or have we Christians failed? Have we chosen admiration over discipleship? Have we chosen fear over love?
The choice is ours.
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