Christianity Is Easy
The clouds were hanging over us as a mass of darkness threatening to overtake all of Krabi. We raced to our car to escape being drenched in its rage. It was a Friday morning. Jason was set to meet a friend in Ao Nang (the nearby beach town) for breakfast and a conversation about a passage on the Bible. Every chance he has to meet up with this friend, I go with him to visit my favorite coffee place: To get a cup of good coffee and spend an hour or two with Jesus. Just Him and me.
The clouds broke loose into a violent storm not long after we got inside our car. The strong wind forcing the rubber and palm trees, which famously surround this area and normally stand tall and mighty, to sway back and forth was inescapable. The downpour was crushing most things in its midst without much of a fight. It shrouded any sign of life outside our tiny car.
I can understand some Jews choosing to become Christians because it’s so easy to become one. I would never ask someone to convert to my religion because we have too many rules to follow.
Armed with my mangled umbrella in one hand, my Bible and journal in another, Jason dropped me off the pavement in front of the coffeehouse. Walking eagerly while battling the raging rain towards it, my enthusiasm plummeted to see the horde of frustrated tourists on every corner of the coffeehouse; there was not a seat left. The usually quiet coffee spot I go to for some solitary time was invisible at this minute. As the tourists were, I was dismayed; nevertheless I ordered my usual cup of freshly brewed house coffee. A table vacated, and I jumped at the momentary chance I had to take it.
Straining myself to read the Bible, I knew my quiet time with Jesus was not going to happen with this crowd’s wild chatter surrounding the room. Two men with their dripping umbrellas suddenly turned up in front of me and inquired, “Hi, can we share your table?”
“Yes, sure,” I said without hesitation. I closed my Bible and focused on finishing my coffee.
The guy sitting next to me asked, “Is that a Bible?”
“Yes, it is,” I answered. “Are you a Christian?” the other guy joined in.
“Yes, I am. Are you guys Christians?” I responded.
“No, we’re not. We’re Jewish. We’re from Israel; we’re on vacation here.”
“Oh, really?!” I responded in obvious awe. I have never met Jews or anyone from Israel before.
One of the guys instantly declared, “I know the Bible speaks about us. I can understand some Jews choosing to become Christians because it’s so easy to become one. I would never ask someone to convert to my religion because we have too many rules to follow. It’s hard to keep them all. I would never put that burden on someone else.”
“Yes, you’re right about that.” His friend chimed in.
In the midst of my loud consciousness, it abruptly hushed and singularly resolved, “These guys have heard the Gospel.”
Our pastor’s recent sermon about surrendering all triggered a thought: this odd, forgotten incident leaped into remembrance and stole my attention. “It’s so easy to become a Christian,” was dancing in my head.
Yes, being saved by grace suggests ease perhaps even idleness—after all, Jesus already did all the work. All I had to do was repent from my sins and receive His gift of salvation. No rituals, no washing of any sort, no rules to follow to avail of this gift. He paid my debt; death has lost its hold on my life on account of His blood. The act of receiving appeared too easy; I struggled with it too. Questions were spinning in my head like a broken record: What’s the catch? Am I really going to be saved just by the act of accepting Jesus in my heart and believing that what He did on the cross for me was enough? How can I be saved without having to work for it? Didn’t I have to do a few good things here and there to actually get into heaven?
It may appear that we are giving up who we are, but the truth is: We become more who we really are in His hands.
It was a hard concept for me to welcome. I wanted some form of command over what my eternity would look like. I didn’t want to merely receive my salvation without sweating over it or placing a certain amount of effort before deserving it. The world taught me to justify myself. It didn’t feel right. I have been so programmed to follow the rules to earn merit. I assumed I was being humble by admitting: I’m not perfect, so I am not sure if I will gain entry to Heaven. But I am definitely working towards achieving that. It never dawned on me that my being “good” to earn worthiness was a product of my ego. I was acknowledging to myself, albeit without intent: I don’t want to let go of being my own savior. I don’t want to let go of the pride it bears to claim that I saved myself.
The Jewish guys said they had too many rules to follow; they were impossible to keep up with. Yet they choose to stay bound in them even after hearing about Jesus. Why? I suspect they understood all too well what it means to be a Christ-follower. I suspect they were scared of what it could translate to the second they dump the rules and take the “easy” way—the Jesus way. Because the moment we receive His grace, we relinquish control over our lives. The moment we open our hearts to Him, we are waiving submission to His love; we are giving up our authority for His. We pay the cost of grace: abdicating the throne room of our hearts and allowing Him to reign. To many of us, it’s a heavy weight to surrender. We have been so used to sitting on the throne, ruling, and carrying the load on our own. We don’t know how to do life without that weight on us.
When grace enters, we are caught off-guard of how life can be out of our control. When grace enters, we are caught off-guard of how it invades every part of our lives—how Jesus unearths life for us. Yes, losing control is frightening but it’s also beautiful. Radical. And deeply satisfying. If we have a tight grasp of the dynamic of what God has done for us, we will stop resisting Him. If we see that real freedom rests in coming home to Him, in turning loose our grip of the rein to His hands, we release ourselves from being captives of our own chains. It may appear that we are giving up who we are, but the truth is: We become more who we really are in His hands.