I am in the middle of reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. (I know, I know- I am only about 4 years late on that!) In any case, I am finally reading it, and I am crazy in love with it (pun may or not be intended).
In chapter 4, “Profile of the Lukewarm,” Chan describes several characteristics of lukewarm Christians so that we may “examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
The difference in having “partially sanitized lives” versus fully sanitized lives (if there can truly be such a thing in this life) is not that those with the fully sanitized lives are perfect not by any stretch of the imagination. Because we are covered and saved and redeemed by Christ’s blood, we are holy. We can have fully sanitized lives (or as close as it gets this side of heaven)!
But the trick is… We have to give it all. We have to give up everything. Luke 14:33 says, “33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” In other words, any and all who want to be a disciple of Jesus must give up everything. Can you take that in for a moment?
What does everything mean to you? That’s the question I was left with. What is everything? I want to be a true disciple of Jesus. I want to do what others might call radical. So that means I must give up everything. And really, isn’t that a small price to pay to serve the God of the universe who is intensely, immensely, insanely in love with you? So the question I am still left with is, what is everything?
When I first read this familiar verse, I immediately thought of all the material possessions I own and conveniences I enjoy. I do not believe God is calling me to leave my home and quit school. I believe He blesses us with possessions so we can serve Him more fully. (However, I also believe we as a people are too comfortable with our toys of luxury. Another blog post perhaps…) The thing is, everything is not limited to only material possessions; it is not limited at all. Giving up everything includes:
- Surrendering your stubborn. human will to the will of a perfect, loving, sovereign God. (C’mon, don’t tell me I am the only stubborn one out there, bent on getting her own way!)
- Jeremiah 29:11-13 says He has a plan for you, a plan to prosper you! Don’t get lost pursuing your own agenda and neglect to pursue what truly matters.
- Controlling, confronting, and combatting your emotions when they threaten to get the best of you.
- Proverbs 29:11 says that a fool will vent when his emotions are stirred but a wise man holds back. The power to reign in emotional surges has already been granted to us by the Holy Spirit. Harness that power.
- Leaving your family to follow God’s plan for you (not in terms of leaving your spouse of children!)
- Mark 1:20 relays the story of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, leaving their father immediately when Jesus called them to discipleship.
- Staying late at work to finish a project or attending a meeting you promised to be present for.
- Proverbs 14:23 say that there is profit in our work. We can serve God fully in the career He has called us to. We do not have to be pastors or missionaries (but God bless and protect those who are!). Therefore, whatever position God has called you to should be honored; you should always give everything at work.
- Taking care of family or others in need.
- Matthew 25:45 says that every time we care for (or neglect to care for) “the least of these,” we are doing so as unto Jesus. It can be burdensome to tend to the needs of others, but there is great reward in giving up your time, energy, and other interests to shine the light of Jesus to those who need it most.
- Loving your enemies (and I do mean your enemies, not just people you don’t get along with).
- Matthew 5:44 says that we are to love and pray for our enemies and those who persecute, abuse, and mistreat us. This goes back to surrendering your emotions to the will of the Holy Spirit. Even when someone does something truly evil (such as the masacres in Iraq), we are to love the people behind the actions. We are to pray for them (and not pray that they “get what’s comin’ to ’em, but sincerely pray for them!).
These are just a few tiny (or not so tiny, depending on your perspective) pieces of the everything Jesus called us to give up. But take heart! He did not call us to give everything up to serve Him so that we might live miserable lives! By no means! Rather, when we give up everything to serve Him, we find abundant, fulfilling life (John 10:10). I am still working through what my everything is. I haven’t gotten there yet. But I can tell you that it starts with submitting to His will and His purpose for me for that day.
In short, what I have found to be everything- my limited understanding of what giving up everything looks like- is getting rid of anything that inhibits or hinders my walk with God or decreases His importance in my life. At the end of my life, I want to be able to say, “I did it, Father. I gave it all. I gave everything.”