Many people leave the Church and their faith behind because they no longer agree with the Church’s stance on hot button topics of the age or even long-held teachings that seem antiquated to their itching ears. People leave the truth because they expected it to be easy. They wanted to belong to something. This is not a new phenomenon. Jesus gave a teaching one day that caused his followers to abandon him in droves (John 6:53-68).
When He taught about giving away all you had to follow Him, His disciples remarked how difficult the teaching was and wondered who could receive it (Matthew 19:23-26). The teachings of Jesus are difficult. They are hard truths because many are called but few are chosen. Few will endure the cost of discipleship.
Hard truths are painful in the moment, but nothing is so rewarding in the long run. Jesus didn’t come to make us feel better about ourselves. He didn’t sacrifice His life for us to live our lives in selfishness and pride. No, He laid down His life as an example of what genuine love looks like in action. He did it so we would understand how to live, how to treat others, and so we would devote ourselves to Himself. Jesus is love and at the same time, He is the hard truth.
We do a great disservice telling people about Jesus without also explaining the battles they will encounter as His follower. People fall away because they never understood what it meant to follow Christ and they are unprepared for the battle. God’s Word could not be clearer. This life is hard, and perhaps more so for those who separate themselves from the culture and live as a disciple of Jesus.
When others mock and persecute us for the sake of Christ, Jesus says He blesses us because of it (Matthew 5:11-12). When we take a stand for Christ, when we refuse to give in to the pressure of the surrounding culture, mocking and derision will not be far behind. Remember Jesus’s warning: in this world, we will have trouble; but be encouraged, He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Jesus has already won. The fix is in. Because of this, we can be bold and courageous when faced with everything the world will throw at us.
Hard truths are a part of life when we follow Jesus. There’s no such thing as a pampered Christ-follower. I’d rather be known as passionate than pampered, anyway. Hard truths lead to hard decisions. We will decide if Jesus is worth it or if we will turn away and go with the crowds. We will have to surrender everything if we want to follow Jesus, but that is the point. He gave up everything so we might live. Now we must give up our lives in return. This is a hard truth and a hard teaching. Choosing to follow Jesus is easy. Following Him is hard. But if you love Him, there is no other choice you can make but give up your life for the One who gave His for you.