Lately I have been learning a lot about the life of Jesus. If I want to follow Him, I need to remember what His life was like, and look at the way He challenged people. He was constantly putting the pressure on! He called people out when they didn’t trust Him…asked them to risk it all…and told them to step it up if they wanted to walk with Him. He was also healing, and loving, and forgiving, and infinitely compassionate….but He didn’t waste words when it came time for someone to make the tough choice.
One man that He called out was the Rich Young Ruler found in Mark 10. This guy was rich. He had a ton of money, and all the comforts and luxuries of life. But something was nagging at Him, and so one day Richie Rich found Himself in a tough conversation with Jesus. Richie wanted to know that He was okay with God…because he knew all the commands, and he did all the right things. But Jesus hit him where it hurt most…in Richie’s wallet. Because Jesus knew that Richie loved his dollar bills more than his God. So Jesus challenged Him to give it all to the poor, leave it all, and follow God. And Richie said no, and went away sad. He was sad, because he knew that following God would cost him too much…he couldn’t have his way, and God’s way in his life. So he chose his way.
This passage is not saying that you have to be poor to be close to God, it’s not even saying that donating all your money is required to be a true Christ-follower. But it is saying that God wants us to let go. Of our way, our control, our comforts, our ego, and our safety nets. He wants us to lose it all when it comes to following Him.
Two years ago, when Jon and I were beginning the process of moving to El Salvador I remember thinking that I was truly experiencing something out of the ordinary for someone who follows Christ. I remember talking with my parents, who are very wise by the way, and saying to them, “I feel so lucky because so many people follow Jesus their whole lives and never get to that moment where they just have to make a choice and give it all up…prove that they really do love Him.” My parents both agreed that I was wrong. And they were right. I’m not the lucky one, I’m not the exception.
Because everyone who claims to follow Jesus will reach a point where they have to make a decision that will cost them something or even cost them everything. Because we can’t be like Jesus, and not be LIKE Jesus. And His life cost Him everything.
Today in many parts of the world, followers of Jesus are losing their lives. Some are losing their families. Some their countries. Some their jobs. Some their security, their comfort, their self-centeredness.
But we have to lose in order to gain. It’s the upside-down Kingdom of God. When we look down low, we find Jesus. When we try to pull ourselves up – more money, more power, climb the corporate ladder…we lose it all. We lose our very souls. And if we know God at all, we know we can’t have it all. We can’t have our way, and His way.
Some of you will read this and go away sad because you know there is something that is holding you back. I don’t want to hold back…I want to lose it all for Him. Because I love Him, and I want to be like Him.
So, what do you have to lose?
Wow, that was pretty powerful. I agree with what Becky posted on Facebook, it was very well said. Interestingly enough, I taught on Richie Rich in Sunday School yesterday, so I’ve had this passage on my mind and have seen some areas in my life that I have to give up to walk more closely with Jesus. Thanks for your words and for sharing your heart. And, by the way, I don’t feel so wise….
Love your reflection here! And because you asked, I know my “thing” is “life as I had planned it,” especially when it comes to kids. Always pictured myself with a small herd. But God led me to the spouse He did and the life we have, and plenty of opportunities to serve… other people’s kids. I was just thinking about this last night, while out to dinner with a few families from our hispanic ministry. Their kids all clamor to tell me things (they all speak English – woohoo!) and I get along with them great. And today and for the next few days, I have my friend’s toddler daughter while my friend gives birth. And if I had more than my two, I wouldn’t be as freed up as I am. Still really hoping there are a couple more in our future through the E.S. adoption process, but I have to ask myself, “if it never works out, am I willing to cheerfully take the opportunities I DO have to love those around me?” Even if I “only get to have two kids.” Truly something I struggle with, so I appreciated reading this tonight!
I feel like my life is a constant process of me trying to do it “my way” instead of being content with what God has given me in this moment. I’m glad it encouraged you, and I sure hope those E.S. kids are in your future too!