We’ve been talking a lot about walking in the easy yoke of Jesus, and we’ve discussed how doing life attached to Him sets us free from the need to continually pretend that we’re perfect as we keep trying harder to win the approval of others. I’m sure by now, you’re fully convinced that this is the best way to live your life; however, you may wonder why certain Scriptures seem to contradict this idea. There’s no denying that Jesus, in addition to teaching rest, also instructs us to do things like take up our cross and follow Him and be crucified with Him. How, then, do we rationalize what seems to be a paradox? Is Jesus’ yoke easy or is it hard? Does it mean life or does it mean death?
As we seek an explanation for this contradiction, the Apostle Paul helps us by comparing life to training for and running a race. The term disciple has its root in the word discipline; in other words, you cannot be a disciple without the discipline required to become like your Rabbi. To use a different example, a concert pianist is in essence a “disciple” of his or her instrument and knows how to get maximum beauty from it. However, the journey to becoming a consummate expert was not one that happened overnight — it required great discipline and a lot of training. Though you may sit in the audience and admire the effortlessness with which the virtuoso plays, there was a cross required to get there!
Friend, walking side-by-side with Jesus and sharing in His rest requires that you train into who He is. As you emulate your teacher and practice things like death to self, humility, self-control, and accountability, there is a price to pay. It requires hard work and discipline, but once you have mastered these things (as much as humanly possible), life gets easier. When you take time to practice spiritual disciplines and train yourself into the Kingdom of God, you become a partaker of His life and freedom. In essence, you learn that the field you’re plowing is not your field, it’s His, and He is showing you how to do it in the best possible way! Isn’t that great news?