… continued from my last post…
The real tragedy of “part-time Christianity” is how it effects, or fails to positively effect, the world at large… This is why Jesus is always perfectly clear. To truly follow Him costs us everything we have: “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33; see 14:25-33!) Truly, the things we fail to leave behind become the barriers to true relationship with Jesus. Jesus knows this – and Jesus implores us to the embrace the only way in which all this works. A full and complete surrender – all that we are for all that He is.
This is the good news we have been longing to hear. In all this talk of sacrifice and surrender and losing, we fail to focus upon the fact that the greatest of all possible treasures awaits us. When we truly see the infinite value of intimate relationship and friendship with Jesus (that He is freely offering) then we begin to see that there is no price too great to obtain what really matters most. This is the other thing Jesus was trying to tell us when He taught us the parables of the treasure discovered in a field (Matthew 13:44), and of the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46). If we really understood the treasure that is Jesus, we would not give our surrender, or sacrifice, a second thought. The infinite worth of living in a real, loving relationship with our Creator holds no earthly equivalent. This is just as the apostle had concluded, when He told the Philippians: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…” (from Philippians 3:8-9)
How can we know if we are full-time Christians? The best indicator is what truly occurs in our hearts and minds. Do we sense the powerful Presence of God surging within us, compelling us to love as He loves and to give as He gives? Do we find ourselves seeking opportunities to be a blessing to others without a thought of receiving anything in return? Do we live in a sense of wonder with each day, knowing that our God is at work in us, around us, and working through us to accomplish His purposes? Do we live in a spirit of thanksgiving (even in the midst of difficult circumstances)? Are our thoughts dominated by seeking Him, knowing Him, and loving Him from the moment we awake to the moment we lay our heads upon our pillows at night? These are the types of things that inhabit the hearts and minds of those who are utterly His. When God alone is our life, we are filled and fulfilled by His all-sufficiency.
All this may sound a bit too extreme or severe. All this talk of laying everything down to follow after Jesus seems overstated, maybe even impossible. But here is the most important thing: we just cannot be what God desires us to be without a full and complete surrender. We must understand that God will only place the precious treasure of His Kingdom into empty hands. We cannot hold on to the bits and pieces of this world (no matter how important we might think they are) and also try to grasp the things of God. We only end up cheating ourselves of things of more infinite worth, both in the hereafter and in the here and now. That’s right… what God offers us, He is offering for us to experience in this life, in this world. As we read in the Book of Acts, we discover a church full of people who had found the joy and wonder of the surrendered life. They had completely left their own lives behind, and had completely embraced Jesus as Lord – and in doing so they found that they had gained more than they could have ever possibly imagined.
True salvation is all about the great exchange: His life was given for ours – so that, in turn, our life could be given for His. And the life He offers us in return is both abundant and infinite. Nothing in this world can compare to the wonder and magnificence of a life lived in real relationship with our God, the Great King. This is at the very core of true Christianity.