Last week, Steve read us the passage about the cost of following Jesus. To recap:
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Basically, whatever you most value in life–security, honor, intimacy–you must be willing to abandon for the Kingdom of God. It’s the classic sentiment that if you lose your life for Jesus, you will gain it. There’s only one problem with this message.
I like my life. A lot.
I have two beautiful children who I absolutely adore. A wife that I’m madly in love with. An excellent career that has provided security for me and my family for years to come. What of this do I need to abandon to further the Kingdom?
I know several missionaries who have the most fulfilling life experiences you could possibly think of. But I’ve never felt the calling for long-term missions, overseas or otherwise.
Many people serve with reckless abandon in churches or charities in their home towns. Which I’m sure would be amazing and challenging and impactful. But once again, that’s never been for me.
These are all things that I have participated in, but never really poured myself into. So what is it? What are the things I need to do to give up my life for Jesus?
In pondering these questions over the past week, I have come to two conclusions, which you may find wholly unsatisfying if you were reading this expecting an answer.
1) Jesus will love you anyway. If you cling to your security, or take the time to bury your father, or go back to say goodbye to your loved ones, or whatever it is that diminishes your maximum effectiveness for the Kingdom of God, Jesus still accepts you. This passage from Luke (or any passage from the NT) should not be confused as some kind of New Law that we have to adhere to in order to find favor in God’s eyes. He knows that our lives are complex and difficult and messy. And he will guide and comfort us the entire way as we discover how to best build his Kingdom.
2) This is going to look different for everyone. Not everyone is called to build churches in Lebanon, or to minister full-time at a local homeless shelter, or to proclaim the gospel from the pulpit. Paul explains this as being different parts of a complex body. I don’t want to dilute Jesus’ message–you will have to walk away from things that you care about when they conflict with the Kingdom of God–but it’s just going to look different. Different today than 2000 years ago. Different here than in other places around the world. Different for you than for me.
Whatever higher calling God calls you to, don’t be ashamed if it takes you a while to embrace it. But don’t lose sight of it, either. Whatever it is for you, it’s between you and God as he molds you into the best version of you. As for me, I don’t know that this week I have been able to identify any concrete answers, but I have a few ideas.
And maybe that’s enough.