The 4-hour Faithful
The 4-Hour Faithful
It promised a 4-hour work week. I found it sitting in the stacks of discount buys that Barnes and Noble kept just inside their door. 2007, the year it was published, was a busy year for me. I was preaching full time, holding down a secular work, and burning my candle at more ends than I could count.
The cover made three promises: an end to the 9-5, the ability to work from anywhere, and an invitation to join the new rich. Admittedly I thought it was a joke when I saw the title, but the promise of new wealth while minimizing my time investment was intriguing. I still have the book and have skimmed its pages well enough to get the gist of its direction, but I've never read it. I never found the time.
Even a quick skim of the contents told me that the principles it taught were not compatible with either my secular work or my work as an evangelist. Still, the idea spoke to a part of me that exists in each of us, the desire to get something for nothing.
This kind of thinking is acceptable when it comes to bargains and buy one get one sales, but increasingly the allure of apathy has become evident in the spiritual lives of many who are suffering from just this sort of thinking. The promise of spiritual reward with only a four-hour weekly investment has captivated many in our present age, replacing the disciplined lives of faith that were inherent to God's people in ages past with an undisciplined vagueness when it comes to matters of faith.
No other way or will
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, he urged them to accept the mind of Christ (2:3-5) and follow the example of Jesus in setting aside personal glory for the sake of attaining the Kingdom of God and the spiritual wellbeing of their brethren. We see a similar plea in 1 Corinthians 11 where he warns them of the arrogance that might turn their fellowship into obstacles of stumbling. There the apostle urges them to imitate him as he endeavors to imitate Christ.
Have you ever thought about what our lives would look like if we endeavored to glorify our Savior and the Father in this way?
When Jesus spoke to the apostles of his impending death in John 14, He proclaimed in verse 6 that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and none could come to the Father except through Him. By these statements, He is alluding to the inauguration of the Way through His death upon the cross, but He also shows how the road is walked.
Abide in Him (John 15:4-6)
Abide in His Word (John 15:7)
Bear fruit that glorifies God (John 15:8)
Abide in His love (John 15:9)
Imitate His love (John 15:12)
If all of these intentions could be summed in one thought, it might be the prayer that night in the Garden: "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."(Matthew 26:39)
Jesus asked the Father for an easier way to bring about our salvation than death upon the cross but remained steadfastly committed to the path. If our savior sacrificed everything to bring about the will of the Father, can we claim today to walk His way and offer less?
The apostle did not think so when he began to show the application of all he had taught in the book of Romans. At the beginning of chapter 12, he asked his reader to consider the mercies of God, in particular that God had not spared His Son to rescue them from the certainty of their sin, and then urged them to offer their whole lives as a sacrifice of worship. He declared this service reasonable considering what God had given for them.
Unpacking this thought just a little shows us the underlying problem of the allure of the easier way. If we truly understand the magnitude of this sacrifice, we do not look for the convenient glories, but rather in gratitude we seek to give even more to Him who gave everything for us.
David expresses a similar thought to Araunah in 2 Samuel 24:24 where he proclaims that he would not offer to Jehovah (YHWH), who is God, that which costs him nothing. Perhaps our greatest struggle is not in realizing what we should offer but in being impressed with the magnitude of His grace (payment for our sins) and the enormity of His mercy (removing the charge against us).
This is the Easier Way
Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB) "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
When we don't appreciate the burden of our sin, we don't understand how wonderful it is to be able to imitate Jesus. When Paul Spoke of this in Romans 6:23, he declared that the appropriate and just wage of sin is death. He had previously expressed this in chapter 1:32 of the same epistle. The requirement of a whole life sacrifice seems burdensome when sin is not in the proper perspective. When the world frames our sin in terms of freedom and living the best life, then we do not appreciate that learning and imitating the Master is actually freedom. In compassion, He takes away the heavy load which none could bear and teaches us a better way. Giving us the burden, which is lightened by removing our sin, He shows His compassion by providing an easy yoke. Until we really appreciate the burden of life without Him, we will never understand how glorious it is to carry a more comfortable load.