Some expressions in the vernacular, that is “words used on the street,” express an idea in a way that more formal expressions just can’t match. Such an expression is “on Easy Street.” Someone who has just received a great windfall that transforms their economic circumstances from being meager to being set for life might use the expression, “I’m on Easy Street now!”
It seems that the first use of the phrase was in a collection of short stories published in 1911 entitled Peck’s Red-headed Boy. You have probably heard the expression and maybe you have even used it. While there is nothing inherently wrong with it, the phrase does not embody the real life experience of a person who seeks to live a Godly life according to Biblical principles.
In the gospel of Matthew, as Jesus gave detailed instructions on how one should live to be in harmony with their Heavenly Father, He wrapped up His comments with this overview: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13–14). Hmm…that doesn’t sound like life on “Easy Street.”
In other verses he told his followers more about what to expect as they put into practice the things that they were taught. For example, He said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household’” (Matthew 10:34–36). Jesus knew that putting His ways—which are very different from the religious establishment of His day and ours—into practice would often upset and disrupt families and other long-held relationships. He urged His disciples to not be discouraged or upset by this possibility. He gave them this assurance: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Isaiah had prophesied what the Messiah would experience when he wrote, “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus prepared his followers for what lay ahead. “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
While some might be discouraged by these plain references to the price to be paid for living a Christian life, there are many words of encouragement about the rewards of living one’s life in the “narrow, difficult way.” For example, Paul wrote to the Church in Rome, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). The Holy Spirit is the key to happiness for Christians; “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law…” (Galatians 5:22–23).
The Book of Proverbs often speaks of the blessings that accompany Godly behavior. “He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor” (Proverbs 21:21).
The point is that a person who is seeking to live a Christian life cannot “go with the flow.” While they can enjoy peace of mind and blessings for doing good, it will never be life on “Easy Street.”