I have an old friend who is also a preacher. One day when we were discussing the great mysteries of the faith, we started talking about original sin. That, of course led to a discussion about the nature of original sin and finally, what exactly was the “original sin?” What was the essence and nature of the original sin?
“Laziness,” my friend said. When I asked him what he meant, he leaned back and let out an exasperated sigh as if his answer should have been obvious to everyone. “Laziness,” he said again. “The original sin was laziness.” He took exception to my besmirched look.
He sat up in his chair and went into full preacher mode. He wasn’t just going to make a point; he was proving his case. “Throughout the Bible,” he said, “we’re told to be like Jesus. Jesus tells us to be holy like the Heavenly Father. The whole point of Christianity is to be formed into the likeness of Christ. Wanting to be like God wasn’t the sin of Adam and Eve. Wanting to be like God – in the right way – is the whole point. They didn’t want to do the work.”
The whole point of Christianity is to be formed into the likeness of Christ. Wanting to be like God wasn’t the sin of Adam and Eve. Wanting to be like God – in the right way – is the whole point. They didn’t want to do the work.
Having had a few years to ponder on my friend’s insights and perspective, I’m beginning to think he may have been right. Most of our issues aren’t from our desired ends, but the means we choose to achieve them. Think about it. Few of us get up in the morning and make plans to destroy our lives. Most of know what we want, we just don’t want to do the necessary things to make our goals happen. So, we take a shortcut. We cheat. Then, the trouble begins.
I want to play the piano. I love hearing someone play a piano and every time I hear someone playing the piano, I wished I could play. What I'm not willing to do is practice. I’m not willing to sit at a piano and play scales, do the fingering exercises, learn to read music. I want to play; I just don’t want to do the work.
I want to lose weight. What I don’t want to do is count calories and carbs, drink a gallon of water a day and work out. I would rather just take a pill. Isn’t there an easier way to lose weight, play the piano or do anything else I really want to do?
Short answer: No.
My father used to tell me, “There’s no shortcut to anyplace worth going to.” One of the great disappointments of life is when it finally hits you how much work life requires. Everything takes work. Want to be a good parent? It takes work. Want a good marriage? It takes work.
Want to follow Christ? Well, that takes work.
And this disappoints, well, everybody. Be honest. Didn’t you think when you became a Christian that Jesus would fix everything wrong with your life? Me too! I thought once I welcomed Christ in my life I would be spiritually repaired and I would never have to struggle with the hard things of life again.
Boy, was I wrong.
Here’s what no one tells you – becoming a Christian is only the beginning of being a Christian. In fact, following Christ is the one step that gives us the focus and strength to begin to deal with our junk. We’ll need all the focus and strength we can get because we have to deal with our junk one piece at a time. This takes a long time. In fact, it’ll take the rest of your life.
There are no short cuts. We can’t cheat this process. Each step of faith depends on the previous step. We must do the next step right or we won’t be able to do the step after that. Cheat on one step and the whole process comes to a screeching halt.
This means we get frustrated, and we get frustrated a lot. We just want to deal with our junk and move on, but we’re not given that choice. It’s just not that easy. It was never meant to be easy. Healing takes time. When I was a teenager, I had my wisdom teeth removed. After about two days, I was back in the dentist office with a pretty serious infection. My jaw was swollen and required treatment. According to the dentist, I had healed too quickly. The skin of my gums had closed the hole before the bacteria could drain out. That’s the reason I got the infection.
We can get a nasty infection of our soul when we try to heal too fast. Anger turns to bitterness; woundedness turns to outrage and the smallest slight becomes a canyon that ruins relationships. Soul work is slow work and there’s no shortcut.
You can’t take a pill. You can’t watch a YouTube video. You have to do the work. You can’t have salvation without suffering. You can’t have Easter without Good Friday. You can’t have discipleship without discipline.
We can be like Christ. OK, we can MORE like Christ, but we have to be willing to do the work. If we go back to the original fall and original sin, remember, the punishment was work with nothing to show for it. The resurrection gives us hope our work will pay off with a life transformed into the likeness Christ.
But we have to be willing to do the work. There are no shortcuts.