“To depart from righteousness is to choose a life of crushing burdens, failures, and disappointments, a life caught in the toils of endless problems that are never resolved. Here is the source of that unending soap opera, that sometimes horror show known as normal human life. The ‘cost of discipleship,’ though it may take all we have, is small when compared to the lot of those who don’t accept Christ’s invitation to be a part of his company in The Way of life.”
— Dallas Willard, from The Secret of the Easy Yoke
Sometimes we hear sermons on topics like money or service, and we fall into the notion that Christians are called to a more difficult lifestyle. The belief goes something like this: “Because I’m a Christian, I am supposed to give away part of my income. Non-believers don’t have to do that. Therefore, being a Christian means I must give up what others get to keep. Mine is a more painful path, but it’s worth it because of the sacrifice that Jesus offered on my behalf.” Basically, we believe that living a Christian life is the price we have to pay for salvation. We’ve been missing a crucial point.
In The Secret of the Easy Yoke, Dallas Willard delivered a very different message. The truth is that every part of the Christian life is intended for our good, to bless us with abundant life rich with meaning and purpose. Sin has broken the world, and it continues to shatter things. You can’t live very long without witnessing the consequences of the fall, from minor frustration to overwhelming heartache. This life is chock full of hurt and disappointment, and things just keep falling apart. And yet, there is also beauty to be found, beauty that is not fleeting, beauty that abides.
Do you have any lasting, beautiful memories? When you look back on your life, what stands out? For me, certain moments are highlighted against a drab background of mundane functionality. These moments are characterized by true connection, deep healing, and compassionate helping.
Maybe it’s because my youngest kid is about to “fly the nest” in August, or maybe it’s because COVID has forever changed me. Or maybe it’s just that I’m smack in midlife. Whatever the cause, I’m increasingly taking stock of my life. I’ve found myself looking backward, searching for meaning that will guide me through the next season of my life. I’m still “in process,” but here is one thing I’ve figured out so far: I want the rest of my life to matter. I desire more moments characterized by true connection, deep healing, and compassionate helping.
When our perspective is true, we recognize that the Christian life is protecting us from a horribly disheartening experience. Living submitted to God’s way shelters me from despair at the end of my life. Intentionality helps to ensure that on my deathbed, I know where I’m heading next, and I am at peace with where I’ve been. Not that I will have lived perfectly, but that I will have lived fully, abundantly.
On its own, your income cannot supply that peace. However, God can convert your finances into so much more! Allow him to transform your money into beauty that abides, and experience the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:28-30