It’s easy to be a Christian when things are good. I can wear my sparkly cross bracelet to church among people just like me and feel at home. When I’m headed to a women’s conference, I can wear my Christian t-shirts and walk in a group of women who love Jesus just like me, and I am safe in my Jesus bubble.
I proclaim how much I love Jesus on my social media profiles. I quote scripture and share graphic quotes, but it’s easy. Click, like and share. It’s just that simple.
But this morning, I was reading the story of Jesus’ betrayal in Matthew 26, and I feel like someone has slashed me with a knife. You see, I’m like Peter. I’m full of emotion and quick to tell God that I will never deny Him.
Let’s go back to the story and let me bring you up to speed. Jesus is having what is called the “Last Supper” with his disciples. He is breaking bread and drinking wine with them and telling them it is like his body which He would later offer up on the cross. They drank the wine, while Jesus told them it was like His blood which would be poured out for them. This is where we get “communion.” But let’s face it, the disciples still didn’t get it. They didn’t fully understand what Christ was saying or the meaning of what they were doing.
Jesus even said one of them would betray Him, and all of them would “fall away” on account of Him. In other words, they would turn their backs on Jesus. Peter was somewhat of a hot head. And he was full of emotion about what Jesus told him and said, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And the Bible tells all the other disciples said the same.
Of course, they did. They were sitting in a room with Jesus and men just like themselves. They were all His followers. No one was busting the door down. They were having a meal together. They were in a safe space. It was easy.
But then they left the room where they ate, and Jesus took a few of them to a place called Gethsemane. The Bible tells us that Jesus became “sorrowful and troubled.” He said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38)
Jesus went up a little farther to be alone to pray, but the disciples stayed to wait on Him. And they fell asleep. Their Lord asked them to pray but it was hard because they were tired. It was night, and they just had a meal. Jesus came back and woke them. He was a little frustrated they couldn’t stay awake to pray. After waking them, Jesus left again to speak to His Father. The disciples once more fell asleep! This time when He found them sleeping, He left them and returned to pray.
I must ask, where was the enthusiasm from dinner time? Where was the high emotion? It wasn’t as easy anymore because they were tired, but it still wasn’t hard. Not yet.
The third time Jesus woke the disciples, it was to let them know people were approaching. Judas came with a large crowd armed with clubs and swords. He walked to His Teacher and kissed His cheek, the secret signal to the soldiers to identify the right person to arrest. Jesus told them He would go peacefully, because He said, “This has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” (Matthew 26:56)
The situation was a little scary, but Jesus agreed to go with the soldiers. The next lines of this verse had me in tears this morning. It says, “Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” ALL THE DISCIPLES DESERTED HIM AND FLED! Did you get that?
When it was easy to be a follower, they were all in. But when the going got tough, they ran away. And I had to ask myself this morning, “Would you have run?”
And I honestly don’t know. I want to tell you that I would have stayed right by Jesus’ side. But I’m so much like Peter, and I have to be honest. Maybe I would’ve run. Y’all have no idea how much that hurts my heart to say. I don’t want to be like that. But I wonder if many of us are the same?
It’s not quite as easy to be a Christian in America anymore. It’s not as hard as some countries where Christians are being run from their homes or beheaded, but it’s also not as easy as it once was. Are you as quick to talk about Jesus at work where you know your friends are critical of Christians? Do you ever hesitate to share Christ because you aren’t sure how people will respond?
I don’t want to be an easy Christian. I want to be a no-matter-what Christian. When my best friend dies of cancer at age 39, I want my reaction to that death to honor God and reflect Him. When someone slams my son’s head into a locker at school and bloodies his ear, I want to show Christ to both the school and the boy who did it. When my non-Christian friends call me narrow-minded, I want to be able to smile and pray for them to understand. When people judge me by how I look and how I vote and say things about me that aren’t true, I want to show grace and learn the tactful art of keeping my tongue in my mouth and my foot out of it.
You see, I want to be a Christian. Period. I want to follow God. Period. Not just when it’s easy. Not just when things are going good. Not just when I’m at church or Bible study. Not just at home. Not just when I’m safely behind my computer. All the time. But I’m stopping today to pause and ask myself this hard question.
Do I claim Christianity only when it’s easy? Or am I truly a Christ follower no matter what?
I challenge you to ask yourself the same today. And then, friend, let’s start living like it.