October 25, 2006

Life is Hard

In today's Gospel reading (Lk 12:39-48), we're presented with a parable Jesus shared with his disciples. The parable of the master and servants is one that both warns of the second coming of Christ ("..the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour") and reminds us of our duties as stewards of the earth and ourselves.

Read the passage over - Jesus did not come to make our lives easier or our burdens light. God gave us the Ten Commandments to make the natural moral law clear and, thus, remove what little excuse there could be for not obeying. By knowing the Jesus is our Lord and Savior, what excuse there would be for not behaving in a Christian manner is burned away. The servant who knows his master's will and acts against it receives a more harsh punishment that he who is ignorant. That is the weight of being Christian. "Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required...", or to borrow more recent phrasing, "with great power comes great responsibility."

If we continue past verse 48, we find Jesus talking about dividing households and casting fire. He warns us to settle our accounts before we're finally judged. The vision of Jesus as a cuddly teddy bear of a man simply isn't accurate. "Good" and "loving" are not the same as "soft" and "easy". Real love is not a lamb. C.S. Lewis expressed this perfectly when he wrote at the end of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe that "Aslan is not a tame lion". A tame lion would not say that "I came to cast fire upon the earth."

As children, we could both fear our parents and know their love. As God's children, we are fathered with that same "tough love". The next time someone tells you that life is hard, agree with them. It is. Life is hard because God loves us as a father, He aims to refine us like metal under a hammer, and He treasures our freedom and growth enough to let us fall before picking us back up.

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