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I am having difficulty reconciling a tension that I see in the teachings of Jesus.

In Matthew 11:28--30 Jesus tells us

28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

(all verses herein have been taken from NRSV). However, in Luke 9:23 Jesus also tells us

23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Similarly, in Luke 14:25--33 Jesus tells us the cost of discipleship

25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

So on one hand, Jesus' yoke is easy and his burden his light. On the other hand, we are also given the serious and austere command to take up our cross--which is very heavy. In Romans 8:17, even Paul seems to suggest that we need to share in Christ's sufferings

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

In Mere Christianity, Lewis suggests that this tension is reconciled by devoting every aspect of our life to God, but this interpretation doesn't seem obvious to me. It seems like there should be an easier, more apparent way of reconciling these passages. If the Bible is God's word (as I believe it is), then why isn't easier to understand?

I have searched this forum, and have been unable to find any answers that directly address the tension to which I am referring.

I would be very grateful to anyone who can shed some light on this matter.

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    Welcome to the website. It is not for me to specify, exactly, but your question - if focused on a single, particular text - may be either more suitable, or may be also suitable, for the other site on Stack Exchange - Bible Hermeneutics. – Nigel J Jun 7 at 14:11
  • Thank you very much for the suggestion. I may cross-list it there, if possible. – jackrodgers1554 Jun 7 at 14:17
  • To answer this question would take too long. I spent a good six or seven years wrestling with this very question. It is important. I found my answer piece by piece reading "The Normal Christian Life" by Watchman Nee, "Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret", The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer, "Practicing the Presence of Christ" by Brother Lawrence, and by memorizing the Sermon on the Mount, especially the section on the Golden Rule. Matthew 5-7 was what finally opened my eyes. Bearing the cross is hard until it becomes easy. – Paul Chernoch Jul 7 at 22:24
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Thank you for your question, I think it is actually a good question to put ourselves into. About what Jesus's teaching is all about, and how can we live out our life that is glorifying to God. As I reflect my life upon it, I came to a simple thought that I hope that may help you.

I think we must come to understand our purpose in life. In this world that full of darkness and lawlessness, for what reason we live in this world, and to understand that Jesus has been giving encouragement and promises that comforts us, in trials, in difficulties, in persecutions and so on. To grow in Jesus Christ also means that we must allow ourselves to be exposed to the storm of life, trials and challenges.

Christian, or to say, disciples of Jesus Christ, are those who follow Jesus' teaching. Our only purpose in life is to fulfill God's Will and his purposes.

In Luke 9:23,

23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

The daily cross represents trials and challenges in our lives, explicitly talking about the trials we face when we are doing God's Will. Jesus came and gave us Salvation, a gift of eternal life, and he has given commands to us that, as his disciples, we must do the same, the share the gospel to the world. Many unbelievers will come and try to give a hard time to those who shares gospel. Why? Simply because the Satan is deceiving the people, that Satan doesn't want the truth to be shared.

In these trials and temptation that Satan has led us into, I would explain in one situation to make a clearer picture of what I meant:

Say you have come to a church, and stayed here for several months. You join the Sunday Service even the Fellowship. And you enjoyed it, because you just sits there alone and enjoy all the programme that has been prepared by other people.

So one fine day, the pastor approach you and invited you to take up a serving position in the church. The next thing you realised is that you are sitting in a meeting, and the committee are discussing about the programme of the coming fellowship. One way or another, you started to find out that some of the people who serves in the church are less "friendly" as you expected. Some are even having very tight tension among other people who serves. You started to realised that, the relationship between men in the church are broken. Sooner or later, the trouble maker came to you and started to squeeze you and give pressure to you in your serving. And you were stressed about it, and told the pastor that you decided not to serve anymore.

Story Ends

The trouble maker I mentioned could be a pastor, a church leader, or someone who have high position, or anyone you men in your serving. I have been to many churches and see many cases, where there are always some people who have their pride inside, and doesn't allow those who were less superior that him/her to do decision or even say anything in a church serving.

These people, the "trouble makers" are one of the trials that we, as the disciples of Jesus face everyday. There is no way to avoid it, I believe God has placed different kind of people surrounding us, to test us, to give us chance to grow. And to share the gospel of those who have broken relationship with God.

And the daily cross means that, in our daily life. We must deny ourselves, get off the pride in ourselves, and in exchange, we focus on Jesus in our prayers and devotional time, to renew ourselves. Because we have trials to face.

But take courage, as Jesus said in Luke 28,

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

When you have taken the cross and serve Jesus, you come to realise that: Serving People is Difficult!

And this moment, Jesus asked us to come to Him. Those who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, meaning that we are stressed and find no way in dealing the problems on our own. Neither can we just kick the Trouble Maker out of the church, or try hard to rebuke him at what he has done wrong. But one thing we can do is:

To surrender to our God.

Because at the end of the day, all the things that we do, we only participate it, and in partnership with God.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:8-10

You see, God has already prepare everything for us, the work has done by God, in all many different ministry. God have entrusted us the work to us, and we do it not because we are trying to earn our salvation, we do it solely because we as Christian, love our God.

And in love, that we embrace ourselves in serving Him, because of the comforts and promises that Jesus has been given to us. Through love, we face difficult people; through love we share gospel to the people; That although we face trials and grows weary, but surely we will find rest and fin way in our All-Loving God, our Almighty God, Jesus Christ, Our Savior.

As Christian, we must be clear on what is our purpose. To proclaim the gospel in all nation. Understanding the challenges in this world at the End Time. And hold fast onto the hope and promises that God has given to us through the word of God. The bible is where you find your direction, and pray to listen to God for His guidance.

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