He was in the classic, dropped-a-contact-lens posture, kneeling with his hands on the ground but his face pressed into the dirt. His lips moved as he chanted what I suppose was a prayer. When he stood up, he took one or two steps and knelt back down to do it again. Over and over. We observed this man on the side of a road in India. I was told he was making his way for many miles to the steps of a temple. It was an act of penance and devotion. This is a very common concept in religion – doing something to work your way to being good enough. Jumping through the right hoops so God will accept you. Some penitents go on pilgrimages. Some make extravagant sacrifices. Some repeat ritual prayers. Some do painful things to their bodies. The goal is always the same: doing enough to be accepted. Measuring up.
Here’s what you have to do to be accepted by Jesus:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)