I haven’t written in several days. Partly because I’ve been back to work full time and am still trying to find the right balance and missing the time to write I came to love last month, and partly because I’ve been thinking deeply about a few things and wondering how to share them. I’ve not stumbled upon any profound words, so I’ll just say it: Nothing about my life hurts. Nothing. I am not even uncomfortable. Because of this, I fear I am doing little, if anything, to obey the commands of Jesus to “GO therefore…” For several years now there has been a growing disquiet in my soul. A dissatisfaction with my life. An ever-present knowing that something is not right, that there is more, and that I am missing it.
There are a lot of verses in God’s word, many spoken by Jesus Himself, that I (and I suspect the majority of American Christians) conveniently skip over in daily life application. We pick the promises we like and ignore the ones we don’t. Perhaps we rationalize away some of Jesus’s instructions as “not for us.” Maybe we’ve not taken time to try to understand some of His words. Here are a few (emphasis mine):
Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.
1 John 3:16
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.
Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made newand the Son of Mansits upon his glorious throne…everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.
A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
And finally, is this about to be us?
“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.
“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.
‘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.
Your enemies will be right in your own household!’
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
What is the American Christian’s response to these very real words of God? What is my response? My first response is to humble myself and pray. Seek God for what He would have me do, change, give. My next response should be nothing less than to obey.