Do you remember Far Side comics? They were filled with animals talking, especially cows and giant insects. And they were hilarious! I was always amazed that they could cram so much humor into one little comic window. If you aren’t familiar, take a minute and go here (I’ve done the hard work for you of putting Far Side into Google Image Search. You’re welcome).
One of the classic Far Sides is a student pushing on a door. All he wants is to get to school on time! So he is pushing with his whole body. Except the door says “pull”. Oh, and the sign out front says “school for the gifted!
I don’t know about you, but this comic feels a lot like my faith sometimes! I‘ve been doing this Christian thing for a long time. I’ve gone to church. My parents took me to Sunday School. I have degrees in this stuff. I feel like I am attending the Christian school for the gifted. I have a lot of head knowledge.
But when it comes to living out my faith in the real world, I feel like I am pushing on a door that says pull. Have you ever felt this way? Things don’t quite go the way I expect. I think I have all the right verses and know all the right answers. But then life shows up, and I flunk the quiz.
We’re Overcomplicating Things
I think that’s it. If you are a Christian, you’ve been handed this big book called a Bible. It’s heavy. It’s long. And parts are really, REALLY confusing. But this is supposed to be our guide, right! So we read and study and look for answers. And this whole time, our faith keeps getting more and more and more and more… Complicated! How do I respond in “this” situation? How do I feel about “that”? Can I drink? How do I vote? What is the definition of marriage?
And on and on and on it goes.
I believe in a simple faith. It’s not easy. But it is very simple. Just look at the words of Jesus.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. -John 10:10
Or how about…
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:35-40
The entire law, the whole Old Testament boiled down to two phrases: Love God. Love people.
You see, we overcomplicate things. Jesus makes things simple. Can I tell you how to face that tough decision at work you are facing? No. Can I tell you how to act in this or that situation? Not even close. But I can tell you to love God and love people. And I bet if you gave your life to pursuing those two goals, that other stuff would work itself out.
Let’s finish with one more statement from Jesus. A little background first. In ancient times, Jewish children would follow around a rabbi to learn from them. They followed them everywhere. And each rabbi had a specific teaching- a certain way they interpreted the Law that was special to them. This teaching of the rabbi was called his “yoke”. You spent years learning a rabbi’s yoke. Now listen to these words of Jesus:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30
This doesn’t sound complicated, does it? Jesus makes things simple. And that truly is rest for my soul.
Do you have trouble making your faith complicated? What are some ways you can think of that make faith confusing? Does the yoke of Jesus seem simple to you? Is this surprising?