Jesus: Give it up!
Disciple: No Lord, let me do this instead.
Jesus: That’s not how it works.
We come to Jesus, more or less, on our own terms. We come with our houses, cars, abundant possessions that no sensible person needs, and with our leisure, pleasure and all the rest. We come with the last bit of us to be sanctified, our wallets. And we worship Jesus, seek our blessings and peace, and slip back into our own lives in our own little kingdoms where we rule supreme.
Who am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about me, but if you see yourself in there, know you’re not alone. And you know what? I hate it. But there are so many times I rehearse the conversation above. The two words, ‘No’ and ‘Lord’, cancel themselves out. If he’s Lord, no isn’t something to say to him.
When I sense God call me up on my attitude towards ‘stuff’ or ‘comfort’ I start along the lines of self-justification…oh Lord, what harm does having [enter thing] do? I mean, surely Jesus doesn’t mean us all to give our stuff up? Surely that’s not sensible? No, I’ll keep hanging on to my stuff and assume that it was ‘that guy’ who had the problem and not me.
And God says ‘are you joking?’
And I’m like ‘No, Lord’ (again).
And God says ‘Nah. You’re wakko-dakko-cock-a-loop.’
And I’m like ‘what?! Lord, don’t you realise what I’ve done for you, what I’ve given up for you, how many times I’ve moved for you and…’
And he looks at me. ‘Are you serious?’
I say nothing.
I know that even although I’m not rich in comparison to others in my city, when it comes to the world I’m in the top bunch of per cent. I’ve a (large) roof, two cars, tonnes of mod cons, comfy bed, regular income, full cupboards and fridge, electricity, couple of holidays a year, expendable income for coffee and books and….
…and I tell myself that it’s all ok because its all a blessing from God that he wants me to enjoy, and I’m thankful, and he has blessed me with comfort and stuff. And Jesus says ‘the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. Take up your cross, consider it all loss. Give up what you have, sell it and give to the poor, for what you do for the least of these you do for me.’
And I’m like ‘really?’
And he’s like….
And I’m like…
The sensibilities of the world tell us that following Jesus can’t really be a radical thing. That’s too extreme. But honestly, am I not even willing to hear the question even if that’s not even what he is asking of me? Am I willing to persist along my shaky ‘no Lord because…’ line of defense? If the LORD says ‘Pack up and go here’ and I say ‘No Lord, not again because I have to [insert excuse]’ how open am I to the possibility that he’d ask me to cross the street let alone cross the nations?
It wouldn’t be so bad if all the Lord’s questions to me were just hypothetical tests. There have been things that he has screamed through every possible communication medium this week and I’m like….
And he says, ‘really.’