Jesus said, “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.”
—Matthew 11:29 (NRSV)
“The secret of the easy yoke, then, is to learn from Christ how to live our total lives, how to invest all our time and our energies of mind and body as he did.”
—Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines
We have all wondered what it is about the Sermon on the Mount that makes it so impossible to live. Was Jesus just trying to make things hard for us? Was he setting us an impossible task in loving our enemies, in turning the other cheek, in going the extra mile?
There is a simple answer to these questions.
It is only impossibly hard for us to do these things when we bolt them on to our worldly lives, disconnected from the disciplines involved in living the true Christian life. Such a life is only hard if we make it hard. But such a life is easier to manage when we are able to achieve a categorical surrender.
Incongruence and unauthenticity are killers in the spiritual life.
Identifying Our Lack of Integrity
Wherever there is a lack of integrity between our spoken and felt devotion to Jesus and the lived reality, we will find living the Christian life difficult, even impossible.
When there is a lack of integrity between the life we attempt to lead and our actual lives we struggle all the more in our hypocrisy. Certain things in the Bible just won’t make sense. And when we observe other people getting it right we will wonder how they do it.
The truth is we all have such a lack of integrity somewhere lurking in the deep crevices of our lives. And it is Jesus who asks us to identify these areas that block the path of his Spirit of anointing.
When we understand that Jesus wants our total lives, and that we cannot live the real Christian experience—the lived experience of grace within our relationships, for example—when we haven’t first given ourselves absolutely to the Kingdom, we know we must commit fully and keep recommitting.
Our goal is to become integral with the gospel—to live through a consistent gospel worldview.
Our goal isn’t to simply reject the worldliness that so interrupts our spirituality; we must do that, and more. We must be prepared to actively give ourselves to the disciplines of both engagement and abstinence. We must be prepared to engage in study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, and submission. We must also be prepared to abstain through solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, living in a certain secrecy to the Lord, and sacrifice.
Nothing less than the full commitment to Jesus is required to experience the easy yoke of the Lord. There is no halfway ground with Jesus. But when we give ourselves wholeheartedly the true Christian life is easier than we previously thought. This is because the art of surrender has been mastered.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.