I was reading an article today written by a once-prominent Christian leader, who was decrying the decay of contemporary Christianity because of "easy believism."
"Easy believism," according to him, occurs when people "...decide to believe in Jesus in order to go to heaven when they die or "to get help for their problems," but then "...never fully committed to trust, obey, honor and serve Him as a way of life."
He then went on to declare that by their lack of holiness, and unwillingness to be "separate" from "the world," these people were essentially not really embracing what he would affirm as Christian faith.
This accusation and the phrase "easy believism" is actually part of a decades-old debate over what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus. And the interesting thing is if the author had stopped with his first paragraph--he would have been on to something.
He was right. Far too many people who claim to be Christian approach their Christian faith as "fire insurance," to coin a phrase---assurance that they will go to heaven when they die.
And he was also right that there are many people who claim to be Christian who believe that becoming a Christian will somehow clear up all of their problems.
But he took a sharp turn to affirm the notion that by keeping rules and regulations, separating ourselves from our communities, neighbors, and culture, and essentially becoming modern-day Pharisees, we are truly Christian.
So, whether he meant to or not, the Christian leader who was touting "easy believism" as one of the many ills affecting Christianity, was actually promoting a form of it.
Keeping rules and regulations is easy.
Affirming a checklist-based, black and white faith is easy.
Living your life by Jesus' example is much more difficult.
It's not easy to follow Jesus by any stretch of the imagination. Following Jesus leads us to go to difficult places, and to love challenging people. Following Jesus means that we are to be immersed in our culture, but not made jaded, hard, selfish and intolerant by it.
May you follow Jesus today--no matter how difficult it might be. May you know that you will not always be perfect, you will not always have the right answers, but you are stumbling after the One who redeems your imperfection and fills in the empty spaces of your unknowing.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.