“I know what I would obtain; it is ease from my heavy burden.”
“But why wilt thou seek for ease this way, seeing so many dangers attend it? Especially since (hadst thou but patience to hear me) I could direct thee to the obtaining of what thou desirest, without the dangers that thou in this way wilt run thyself into? Yea, and the rememdy is at hand. Besides, I will add that instead of those dangers, thou shalt meet with much safety, friendship, and content.”
Doesn’t that sound great? To be rid of our burden… And the answer is found in a promise. This traveller, Christian (of Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”) is carrying a burden he can hardly bear, when he is offered this promise by Mr. Worldy Wiseman. And he, too, is wooed by the promise. He listened to the man’s directions and followed them into the town of Morality to see a man and his son called Legality and Civility. Fortunately, he was rescued by a messenger of the King and placed back on the right path before Legality and Civility were able to enslave him. Legality, you see, is a cheat, and his son, Civility is nothing but a hypocrite – they can’t deliver what is promised.
As I read this portion of Bunyan’s classic, I couldn’t help but hear a 300 year echo in Erwin McManus’ “Barbarian Way”. The church is too often turned aside by what seems Wise. We are content in our Legality and Civility – the only problem is, they cannot save us! All that can save us is to take up our burden, our cross, and barbarically follow the Christ. He alone can lead us to the Eternal. But the path is full of dangers – not comforts. Harsh stone pillows and bitter cold, not padded pews and climate control.
I heard a quote today from C.S. Lewis where he said many preachers seem like “mild-mannered people exhorting mild-mannered people to be more mild-mannered.” That doesn’t sound like Jesus to me. It sounds like Worldly Wiseman.
May we heed the Truth of God’s Word – and follow Him passionately and foolishly enough to resist the wisdom found in the village of Morality. It’s just not enough…