Life is Hard
I was reading about authenticity this week in preparation for this article and I came across an article by Roy Baldwin. He shares the story of being young and newly married, and struggling. Roy and his wife saved their marriage and ministry through counseling. He writes this about authenticity:
“I opened up this post telling you a story. A story about the struggles my wife and I had early on in our marriage. Truth is, we still struggle despite what you might see on Facebook or Instagram. One powerful lesson we learned from our early struggles is that we were not alone in those struggles. And so we started openly sharing about them.” ~ Roy Baldwin
I just want to say this, “LIFE IS HARD!” It is ok for us to admit that. Marriage is hard. Being single is hard. Being a parent is hard. Work is hard. Being a student in school today is hard. Life is hard! Following Christ is hard. That is a real, authentic, truth we must all face. Recognizing this truth can bring freedom. We don’t have to pretend life is easy, and we have it all together. The professional family photo we post isn’t REAL life. We didn’t post the 15 other pictures where a kid is crying, or looking the wrong way. Authenticity allows us to acknowledge the difficulties we all face in life, instead of pretending we all have it together all the time. The Bible helps us understand why life is so challenging. We believe that God made a perfect world, but WE have corrupted it with our sin. So why is life hard? Why is it so messed up? Because WE are messed up. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is the Christian worldview.
I think Christian authenticity is about more than just being honest about who we are and our struggles. True Christian authenticity doesn’t just leave us a place of recognizing our own weaknesses and frustrations, but offers hope in Jesus. Paul describes this in Galatians 5:16-18
16 I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
I love this authentic description of what it means to be a Christian. We all live in human bodies, here Paul calls that “the flesh”, and because of sin our flesh desires unhealthy and unholy things. By nature our flesh is selfish, seeking satisfaction in power, money, fame, food, and sex. But in Christ we now walk by the Spirit! God has given us His own Spirit to lead us and strengthen us so we have the power to walk by the Spirit instead of live as slaves to our flesh. God gives us a new identity that transcends our flesh.
“What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2
WE HAVE DIED TO SIN! Why then is the life of the Christian hard? We live with a flesh that is “opposed” to our new life in God’s Spirit. There is this constant battle between our flesh, and who God is making us to be as we become more like Christ. Jesus didn’t sugar coat it either,
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25
Following Jesus means dying to that sinful flesh. Losing our life. Living NOT for ourselves, but for Jesus. However, we do NOT do this alone. God gives us the strength to walk when we are faithful to follow His leading! He is the one who produces the fruit of the Spirit we have been learning about during Lent. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Director of Youth & Young Adults