One of the exciting things about the Christian faith is that it challenges the best that is within us. It will never let us be satisfied with inferior living. It reaches into the depths of our inner being with disturbing implications. There is no way we can look into the face of Jesus and be content with halfhearted devotion. He calls us away from everything that would make us less than what we can be. He nudges us toward everything that focuses on our spiritual potential. He inspires us to consider the high road of what is best for us rather than the low road of what is easiest for us. Like an Olympic athlete training for perfection our Lord equips us to dream His kind of dreams. No one expects as much from us and yet comforts us when we miss the mark.
The tremendous challenge of being a Christian gives life its greatest sense of purpose. Without this struggle toward some degree of excellence we would lose ourselves in the monotony of mediocrity. There is more to us than what we normally accept. We frequently underestimate our capacity for godliness. We fail to stretch our humanity because our expectations are too low. We are created to move onward and upward. To sense some progress on the journey is a great source of fulfillment. We have no better gauge of how we are doing than the gospel of our Lord Jesus. It tells us that “nobody” can be somebody and that anybody can belong to everybody in Christ Jesus. The process toward achievement keeps us believing there is a place for us in God’s scheme of things.
Let us, therefore, never minimize the demands of Christianity. It is harder than any other lifestyle because it brings out the best within us. If we sentimentalize our faith and turn discipleship into a syrupy ceremony we miss the meaning of commitment and sacrifice. We must never try to camouflage the cross lest we lose the strength of its dying love. God gave His best to show us what is best for us. Indeed His greatest challenge to us is to be baptized with His baptism and to drink from His cup of pain. In the difficulty of our task we will find His glory as we faithfully pursue His dream for us.