You know the type. They’re the people who are the ones who read every detail closely, who hang on every word, and begin plotting their course. They spend more effort plotting than they do doing because they’re hunting for the path of least resistance.
Some of my students do it. They look for the easiest classes. They drop courses that look hard. They ask around to find out which professor requires less homework. Of course, not all do it, but there’s a worn out path between the classroom and the registrar’s office for a reason. It’s the path of least resistance.
Employees do it, too. Some set out to do as little as possible from day one. Others start off strong and apply themselves, only to eventually apply themselves to discovering the most efficient way to do their work. In this case, however, efficiency is not for the benefit of the company. It’s for the benefit of the individual. Either way, the path of least resistance travels through virtually all office and factory doors as well.
Christians know this path all too well. I’ve heard deacons ask if they are required to be at church for all services. They’re not interested in burn out. They’re worried about accountability. I’ve seen would-be converts ask what’s expected of them and I’ve seen some walk away because too much was expected of them. Unfortunately, far too many of our members go through church on the path of least resistance, too.
We’re not surprised that students are asking for directions to this path. We shouldn’t be shocked when our co-workers map out the route. We can’t be too dumbfounded when we encounter Christians on the way either. Fallen human nature has created a race of beings who are looking for the easy way. Why else would easy believism be rampant in the church?
The shocking thing is that so many Christians are surprised when they find out that they’re not supposed to be on that path. After all, Jesus told us that there are two paths, one broad and easy and the other narrow and difficult. Moreover, he tells us to choose the narrow path.
Plus, we’ve got Jesus’ own example. Jesus never took the easy way out. Jesus stood up to every challenge, even when the marrow of His bones was crying out for another option. Jesus walked the narrow the path and has led the way through the valley of the shadow of death. He’s crying out, “Follow Me!” not “do it easier than Me.”
The path of least resistance is well-marked while the Christian way is littered with hidden shoals. The path of least resistance offers plenty of company while the Christian journey is often traveled alone. The path of least resistance is easy while the Christian life can be hard. But, like most other things, that’s what makes the Christian experience worth living.There’s a great line in the movie “A League of Their Own.” At one point in the film Gina Davis’ character, the star baseball player, wants to give up and go home. When asked by her coach, Tom Hanks, why, she responds that things had gotten too hard. Hanks’ answer is priceless: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” That’s the Christian life in a nutshell. We weren’t promised an easy life. We were promised eternal life. To get there we must walk the hard way with the help of the Spirit in the small company of saints. The hard is what makes it great.
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About Peter Beck
Peter serves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).
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