“And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: if this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.” (1 Kings 12:26,27)
Whether or not Jeroboam’s fears were well founded is uncertain. However, of one thing we can be sure. He was more concerned about the people’s loyalty to him than to God. To accomplish his aims, he shrewdly baits his trap with something that entices most all men — the lure of the easy way. He told them, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem…”. Little did it matter, apparently, that he gave them idols, pretended priests and pagan worship. The important thing was that he provided them with an easy religion — and that overshadowed all else. They became victims of the easy way.
Many are the mortals who have succumbed to the lure of the easy way, both spiritually and otherwise. Our advertising agencies have learned the devil’s sales pitch well. They tell you how to lose weight — the easy way. They offer easy ways to quit smoking, to achieve physical fitness or financial independence. People haven’t changed much since Jeroboam’s day. They still fall for the same old bait, “the easy way”; and in doing so have filled the prisons, swelled the welfare rolls and lengthened unemployment lines (Not to mention the irretrievable waste of time, talent and potential). And, as in Jeroboam’s day, the easy way is still a popular way in religion. The prospects of having to “go up to Jerusalem” (or even across town) is still too much for too many. They would take the denying self out of following Christ; the giving diligence out of seeking approval; and the striving out of entering in at the strait gate. Such would have the benefits without the bother. As Jesus says of others, “They have their reward.”
As might be expected, even the Lord’s church has been touched by the lure of the easy way. It is felt in our teaching program when preachers and teachers find it “too much” to make adequate preparation of their lessons and when Bible class students find it “too much” to study and prepare assigned work. It affects our visitation program when members find it “too much” to leave their comfortable homes and TV programs to call on the sick or unfaithful. It affects our personal evangelism program when brethren think it “too much” to try and teach others the way of salvation. It affects the purity of the church when we think it “too much” to finally discipline the unruly among us. Of all things that contribute to the weakening of the church, none is more influential than taking the easy way.
The narrow way can never be the easy way. Not only are the ways different, they lead to different destinations (Matt. 7:14). “Going up to Jerusalem” may require self-denial, sacrifice and hard work but it’s the way of the cross — and that leads home.
Dan S. Shipley, Plain Talk, Vol. XV No 1 Pg3—March 1978