Yesterday, I began telling you of the wake up call that has finally broken through my “sleep-heavy” eyes and caused me to arise with a reply of immediate action. “Follow me.” Jesus said to His disciples. He said those words to many people, in fact, but not everyone listened. Perhaps it was because they knew the consequences of true devotion. Perhaps they were dismayed by the conditions that accompanied the chase. Because the truth of that matter is, following Jesus means that we will abandon everything – our needs, our desires, our comforts… even our family.
“Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” -Luke 14:33
You see, being a Christian isn’t merely some social stunt; it isn’t some check-list item that can be easily maintained by a half-hearted approach; and it isn’t a weekly attendance or a daily chapter. Christianity is an abandonment of ourselves in pursuit of a worthy Savior.
Yet in some ways this total abandonment confuses me. Especially when I read verses such as this:
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” -Luke 14:26
Hate my father and mother? Hate my siblings? Isn’t that a contradiction of Jesus’ command to love one another? And so, completely stumped, I took the question to my dad and he gave me an explanation that, while it was good, stepped down hard upon my toes. You see, Christ deserves such a total devotion from us, that we are to abandon anything that distracts us from serving Him. This is what Jesus meant. Are you allowing something/someone to come between you and God? Is it affecting your devotion? Is it intruding on your Christian growth? Let it go. Your relationship with God is the most important thing you will ever be a part of and you should cherish that relationship so much that you hate anything threatening to hinder it.
But just like the rich young ruler, I see what this devotion requires and I am troubled. Troubled by the idea of losing what I treasure. My mind automatically jumps to the main thing that distracts me from Him. I know what it is. I’m struck with a deep sadness – devastated to part with something so dear to my heart. “You can have the rest of my life, Lord. Can’t I just keep this?” I question. But deep down I know the answer. I’m distracted – preoccupied in my own pursuit. I can feel it hurting my walk with Him and I can see it pulling my heart away. And so, it has to go.
A Tyrant? –
But perhaps by now you’ve gotten the idea that maybe, just maybe, this God we serve is some kind of a bully or tyrant who delights in removing the things that we love most. I’m sad to say I’ve wondered this myself. But no! He is no tyrant, no cosmic bully, who delights in our sufferings and rejoices in our pain. He does not call us to forsake all for nothing; not even simply for the sake of obedience (though that be a worthy cause). He calls us to forsake all with the promise of an eternal treasure in store.
“Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” -Mark 10:21
And He knows that this eternal treasure is immensely greater than anything we can have here on earth. In fact, He must look down upon us and shake His head in wonder as we grasp and pull at the things of this world, rejecting the promise of an eternal prize.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” -Matthew 13:44
Now people may look at you funny for investing your every penny into a “field,” but your face bears a joyous smile. Because you know what that field holds. You know that you are trading your worldly goods for eternal riches. You know that you have found something that is truly worth losing everything for.
“[Jesus] is something – someone – worth losing everything for. If we walk away from the Jesus of the gospel, we walk away from eternal riches… for when we abandon the trinkets of this world and respond to the radical invitation of Jesus, we discover the infinite treasure of knowing and experiencing Him.” -David Platt, Radical
Do You Believe He Is Worth It? –
And perhaps you’re taking a final glance at your own treasures and wondering within your heart, “Is He worth it?” Do you truly believe that He is worth your total abandonment? Is your relationship with Him so rewarding and satisfying that you will leave all you have in order to make it complete?
“Do you and I believe Him enough to obey Him and to follow Him wherever He leads, even when the crowds in our culture – and maybe in our churches – turn the other way?” -David Platt, Radical
You see, we live in a culture that revolves around self, but we profess a faith that is founded in self-denial. So is He worth that self-denial? Is He worth that undying devotion? Is He worthy of your self-abandonment? Unless you truly treasure a relationship with your Lord, He will not seem a worthy cause of your self-denial. This is a serious matter and rests completely on our understanding of who He is. Because you see, if we barely know Him, we will not desire to show Him the love and devotion that He deserves. But if we’re serious about this relationship, then it will be worth whatever sacrifice it takes. Are you ready?
Suggested Reading –
Radical, by David Platt – this is, I believe, one of the best Christian books I have ever read.