Do You Think Following Jesus is Hard? What if it’s actually Effortless?

By Chris Hammond

“Don’t pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you, or ridicule those who ridicule you. Instead, bless them, because you were called to inherit a blessing.” [1 Peter 3:9]

We’re told to do this, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is our true nature. We now have the Divine Nature (2 Pet. 1:4). God did this very thing through Christ Jesus. The entire world cursed Him, yet He repaid our evil with His goodness. We do this, not because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do, but because it is who we really are. We are Him in the earth. Acting like it is effortless as we realize we are in Him and He is in us and we are One. It is only a Mirror showing us who we are, not what we’re “commanded to do.” The nature of God blesses those that curse Him. Because we are like Him, it is only the natural thing to do. Behold and become.

I used to be a theif. Towards the end of high school, I stole and sold the stolen goods and made a lot of money doing it. I don’t steal anymore.

He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.

The reason I don’t steal anymore is not because it is wrong. It’s not a matter of right or wrong. If I do something because it is the “right” thing to do, it is still eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is what caused the fall in the Garden. It’s not a matter of right or wrong. It’s a matter of who I am. I don’t steal, not because it’s wrong, but because it disagrees with who I am. I am God’s son. I am a New Creation. My identity is simply Christ. Christ in me. I was co-crucified with Christ and it’s no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. The life I now live is by His faith. What He believes about me. My life, when I believe what He believes about me, is simply Him living. Because He says I am exactly like Him. (Gal 2:20; 1 John 4:17).

The bible is not a rulebook or a manual telling me how to become a better person or even how to get to heaven. The Bible is a Mirror that tells us who we really are. 1 John 4:17 declares that as He is, so are we in this world. We are in Him and He is in us. Really. It’s not just a nice idea or a ‘positional’ truth. It’s reality. When Jesus died, we really did die. It’s not just a good idea. It’s real. When He rose from the grave, we did too. For real. We’re really seated with Him in heavenly places right now. Seriously for real. As He is, we are. He who knew no sin became sin, so that in Him (where we currently are right now) we are the righteousness of God. It’s God’s righteousness. Not my own. It is mine but it originates in Him. He has given it to us as a gift. We could never earn our righteousness by doing miracles, by praying enough, fasting enough, ‘winning enough souls’… whatever work you might think of that you may think could earn you favor and brownie points with God. It’s all invalidated in Christ.

Yes, we do good works. We were created to do them (Eph. 2). The difference is that apart from faith, works are dead. Faith evidences itself through peace, love, joy, rest. A man filled with faith should have a smile on his face. If anyone is frustrated or depressed, it’s only because they aren’t looking to the right source for their holiness. God has done it in Christ. Our works add nothing to what He has done. Our works are only an outflow of who we are. If it’s hard, you’re trying too hard.

Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light. God is fun and the Gospel is fun! Outwardly, faith and works can look similar. It’s an issue of the heart. A man could go preach and heal thousands, but all while not actually believing the Gospel. He could be doing it all from the place of thinking it’s his “duty” to “save souls” because in his mind, he has to. This, my friends, is a perfect example of striving. Although on the other hand, someone could be doing all of the same things outwardly, yet in his heart he has perfect peace, overwhelming joy and total satisfaction. To him it’s not work. Which one is actually doing the works of God?

I’ll be bold and say this: The former is striving in his own effort, and even in his own efforts, God is still touching lives and changing hearts because God is merciful and gracious and His love never ends. The latter man actually believes that he doesn’t have to do what he’s doing and the joy comes from realizing that what he is doing adds nothing to what Christ has already done. It’s a joy because he realizes that God is pleased with him whether he goes out and prays for the sick or not.

Listen closely.

Jesus is God’s opinion of you. You cannot add anything to what He has done. In fact, none of it matters in light of the cross. You can’t earn brownie points by doing good things. You have no obligation to do anything. God has done it all. You are already perfect. You can’t add to God’s opinion of you by your own performance. It is Jesus’ performance that makes you perfect, righteous, and holy.

What you could not do, God did by sending His own son in your likeness to put to death the enmity of sin by taking it upon himself and destroying it in His death, burying it with Himself, and conquering death through His resurrection. You partook in everything He did. You were literally there, dying with Him, in Him. Christ is your identity. You are flawless. You are His dream come true.

Your actions will never determine your value. Your actions are the expression of your worth as you realize you are absolutely priceless. Be who you are: Daddy’s Beloved.

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