Contemporary English Version (CEV)
How many books have you read about prayer? One? Five? Ten? I've read quite a few of them. If I'm being honest, there are times in my life where I spend more time reading about prayer than I do actually praying. It's as though I'm hoping to find some secret that means I get to skip the hard work and head straight to my heavenly rewards. The day-to-day work required to build a lifelong relationship with Jesus Christ can seem overwhelming at times.
Jesus has invited us into a relationship that is dependent completely upon grace. He calls us to come and die, to submit to his Lordship and learn from him. He promises us that it will be ultimately worth it, but he never promises it will be easy -- he challenges our suppositions and our comfort, and he calls us to change.
The people in Jesus' day treated him with scorn and contempt. Today he is often met with indifference. The hard work of discipleship is seen as too challenging, even though it leads to a place of eternal comfort, rest and security. We put our hopes in worldly things and earthly people, although Christ promises us the security and peace our souls long for.
Faith isn't easy, Jesus teaches, Jesus demonstrates, but his power over life and death is complete, and there is a place for us in his eternal kingdom if we will choose to follow him.