Let’s face it. Life is hard. It doesn’t really matter what job we have or what privileges and benefits we have inherited from our ancestors, each of us has to wake up in the morning and struggle to make it through our day. Sometimes the struggle might be as basic as sorting through the “to do list” for the day, but we all struggle to get through each day. So when we hear that the Gospel of Christ is GOOD NEWS our ears perk up and our attention turns toward the Church. But too often we hear the message of the Church, which is the message of the Cross, and we reject the Church in favor of an easier way. Life is hard enough we think; why should being a Christian be even harder?
If you haven’t at least once considered the life of the Church in this way, then you haven’t really been trying to live as the Church teaches – morning and evening prayers, fasting, attending long Church services, taking care of the poor....and these are just a few things the Church invites you to do as a Christian.
Saint Paul teaches us, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4.7-11)
Sometimes we just need a bit of a reminder that, even though life has its challenges, the hope of the Gospel isn’t about this life. The hope of the Gospel is in the life that God has planned for us, living with Him in heaven. Saint Paul knew this. He knew the true struggle of every Christian. For many of us the question still remains, “If life is so difficult already, why does the Church add so much more to the expectations? Why can’t the Church give us an easier road so we can come to Church for peace and quiet rather than more struggle?” Many of us even say, “I don’t want to come to Church and feel anxious. I just want to come and be at peace.”
Is it possible we think fasting, and tithing, and reading the Bible and all the other “jobs” the Church asks us to accomplish, is too much because we simply do not understand why the Church has given us this life in the first place? Eve depended on her understanding of the benefit of eating the apple rather than on God, and we know what happened to Eve? Saint Paul is trying to remind us, “The transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” The Church, through the entire life it presents to us, is trying to help us depend upon God rather than ourselves, and that takes endurance. It won’t be easy. That much we know, but it is worth the struggle. Two thousand years of holy men and women have shown us that much as well.