Summary: This message explains how following Jesus can be easy and bring us peace and rest.
Living the Easy Life
Part 2 in series The Shape of Things to Come Wildwind Community Church
September 13, 2008
We’re talking about following Jesus – about living our lives as his disciples – learning from him not how to live his life, but how to live our lives the way he would live them if he were us. I told you last week that most people believe that following Jesus is difficult, if not impossible, and I told you that this week we’d focus on how easy it can be to follow Jesus.
This is not to say it requires no effort. Anything worth doing requires effort, and anyone worth following will lead you to places you probably would not go if you were in charge. Following Jesus will be like that. Sometimes it will test you and try you. Sometimes you will fail. Sometimes you will simply not succeed as wildly as you might have hoped. But you can be a disciple and still fail! The gospels are full of accounts of how the disciples failed this and that test, but through it all they were still disciples. In fact the only reason you are following Jesus and not leading him is because he will always get it right and you will sometimes, and perhaps often, fail. If you were not the kind of person who fails, you would have no need to follow Jesus because you would have nothing to learn from him. People who never fail do not need to follow Jesus.
Now to get us started talking about living the easy life as a follower of Jesus, I want to first acknowledge that some of you have not decided to be followers of Jesus, for different reasons. I understand this. But this sermon is for you! See, Jesus said that we all must count the cost of following him. We must add up everything we stand to lose if we follow him, and then add up everything we stand to gain if we follow him. Yep – we do a pros and cons list. Jesus recommended this for two reasons. First, because Jesus was positive that a life as his disciple is the greatest, most peaceful, happy, and successful life you can ever hope to live. Jesus has nothing to lose by honestly asking you to count the cost. Second, if you are to make progress as a disciple of Jesus, you must realize that that has to be prioritized in your life above everything else. It is the most important thing. So if you are not a disciple of Jesus this sermon is for you because in this sermon we will help you see what you will get by following Jesus. Perhaps we can help you decide if this is something you would like for yourself.
Okay, let’s look at this easy life Jesus promised us. We’re going to be looking at Matthew 11:28-30 tonight, out of both the New International Version, and The Message translation. Let’s look at them both right now. Jesus said:
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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."
In other words…
Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
28 "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
29 Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
30 Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly."
First of all, who is Jesus addressing here? Verse 28 (NIV) – people who are weary and burdened. Verse 28 (TM) – people who are tired and worn out and burned out. In order to understand what it means to live an easy life as a disciple of Jesus, we must understand first that Jesus’ invitation is to those who have found that living the way they live is exhausting. It’s for people who can’t keep up the pace – those who wish they could drop out of the rat race. Jesus calls to people who have come to the end of themselves, and yes – that means even in a religious way. Jesus calls to people who are getting tired of playing religious games, people who have maybe sat in church and been guilted again and again, and are convinced they can never be the person their pastor or their church wants them to be. Jesus calls to people who aren’t sure if they can play by the rules, and are pretty convinced they can never live a life that’s as morally impressive as the lives of others may be. Jesus calls to those who don’t know much about the Bible and feel inferior because of it. Is Jesus calling to you, here?