We work too hard.
Spiritually speaking, I mean.
Maybe we work too hard at specific things, too -- our jobs, being a good spouse, raising our kids, dieting, exercising, and so on, but that's symptomatic.
Symptomatic of working too hard at life...
The reason we work too hard -- the reason we find life so damn difficult sometimes -- is that we are trying to do it on our own...through our own doubled, and redoubled, efforts.
Too many of us are like people on those old mopeds, pedaling furiously through life using the pedals, sweating and churning and groaning at how hard things are, never realizing or taking advantage of the fact that the moped has enormous power ready to be unleashed -- power that would propel us at faster, better speeds with 1/100th of the personal energy we'd been expending -- if we only avail ourselves of it.
Believe it or not, that's not the way God intends us to live, or faith to be.
One of the great Lies told about the Christian faith is that it is complicated, joyless, and difficult.
That's not the faith that was proclaimed in the earliest years of Christianity:
The faith is not complicated: Jesus said all the commandments could be summarized in two commandments:
1) "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." That is the first and greatest commandment. And the second commandment is...
2) "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Jesus said all the Law and Prophets (all religion, in other words), hang on -- depend on -- those two commandments.
In other words, love God, love your neighbor as yourself: all the rest is commentary.
The faith is not joyless: Jesus said to his followers, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."
Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! ...Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
And the faith is not difficult. Listen to what Paul says about the life of faith:
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
As I hope to further explore in Sunday's sermon -- the second and final part of a sermon on the Ten Commandments -- the life we're called to live...invited to live...empowered to live! -- is not about working harder AT life.
Rather, it is about living more fully into the simple, joy-filled life that God offers.