I'm reading a book along with some other bloggers. It's funny how God brings these things in our lives. How He can make you know FOR SURE that it's something He wants you to do. See? While I was at Family Camp, I had some time one day (during baby naps) to catch up a bit (I'm sooooo far behind) in my blog reading. Some of my favorite blogs had like 25+ unread items!! Obviously, I don't have time to get to all of them, so I was skimming through them and ended up on It's Almost Naptime (WHICH I love, by the way)--only it was a guest post. Ordinarily, I would skip a guest post in times like this, but God must have had it for me to read, because I was drawn in. The post ended up telling about plans for blog followers to read a book together and write posts in response. After reading the post, I was definitely interested--already. (Read it. You'd be interested, too.) But the next morning? Our speaker at Family Camp mentioned the very same book! Up until this point I hadn't even heard of it. Now TWICE--in as many days. That's how I knew I must read the book. I told Paul about it, and we bought a copy on our way home from camp. Now here I am. One chapter under my belt. And what follows is my response to what I've read so far:
"Someone Worth Losing Everything For: What Radical Abandonment to Jesus Really Means"
Do you ever feel guilty for having so much when others have so little? I do. Constantly! In fact, I think about it all the time. Some would say, "God has blessed you richly. Be thankful for what you have. Enjoy it. Own it." That sort of thing. And, yes, it's true that God has blessed me richly. He's blessed many of us richly. But what we fail to recognize is that even those of us with a more modest income--who wouldn't consider ourselves "rich"--are vastly rich in comparison with MUCH of the world. Even those of us who shop at Goodwill occasionally, as I was doing yesterday, are still in a whole other category of "richness" compared with the majority of the world's population.
We are rich because we have our choice of t-shirt colors.
We are rich because we drive our cars back-and-forth from one activity to the next. Fun, extra-curricular activities that have nothing to do with our physical survival on this planet.
We are rich because we have medical care, clean water, safety, food, etc. The list could go on and on.
But the main reason we are rich is because those of us who are believers...we have Jesus Christ living in us. Jesus Christ! Who is the ultimate provider, protector, and lover of our souls. He is the only Hope worth hoping for.
And yet. We keep Him to ourselves. We hide Him within the safe walls of our homes and bring Him out on Sunday mornings as we worship, comfortably and without fear, in our gorgeous, massive, million-dollar churches with all their expensive programs and fine facilities.
Jesus told those who wanted to follow Him, that they would have to give up everything! Family, friends, possessions, even their own lives to be a true follower of Him. Everything! (See Luke 9) Jesus says to get rid of it all! Jesus says those blessings from the Lord? They're His anyway. Give them away so you can follow Him.
"But we don't want to believe it. We are afraid of what it might mean for our lives. So we rationalize these passages away."
And, in doing so, we slowly begin to redefine Christianity. We make Jesus into someone we are more comfortable with. Someone who is fine with our building projects, our constant need to collect more "stuff," our avoidance of all things extreme and dangerous, and our Sunday-only worship. What we'd really like is a Christianity that allows US to have all the things WE want, instead of the Christianity He calls us to, which says for us to abandon ourselves. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer's book, The Cost of Discipleship, he says, "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." That is a terrific cost! But as Platt puts it, "I wonder if the cost of nondiscipleship is even greater." (emphasis added)
The price is high for US, as believers, and the price is high for the unbelieving world. "While Christians choose to spend their lives fulfilling the American dream instead of giving their lives to proclaiming the kingdom of God, literally billions in need of the gospel remain in the dark."
I was particularly sickened by a recounting of a Christian publication the author came across on which there were two headlines: "First Baptist Church Celebrates New $23 Million Building" and "Baptist Relief Helps Sudanese Refugees." The second article went on to say that $5,000 had been sent to the Sudan. The Sudan--where 350,000 Sudanese would most likely die by the end of the year due to malnutrition! $23,000,000 for a building...and $5,000 for the dying Sudanese.
I can't understand this, much less reconcile it in my mind. It's truly unfathomable. But while I'm busy being horrified by the injustice of it all, I begin to look around at my home, my closets packed full of stuff, my pantry full of food, and that's when I realize I'm the same. In fact, I'm holding on to all these things as if I can somehow find life's very meaning in them. Am I willing to give up my comforts? Willing to say, "Yes Lord. These beautiful children? I give them to you. They're yours. My precious husband? Him, too. You are all I need. You are ALL I'm living for." Can I actually DO that?! The truth is, the very thought gives me heart palpitations. The truth is I am happy being comfortable. I am selfish. And I am not nearly radical for my Jesus.
I'll tell you what, though. I may be scared like most. But God is teaching me more and more every day. I'm not nearly as caught up in materialism as I once was. I'm much more aware of the great need all across the world. And I'm no longer content with just tolerating the once, maybe twice, a year "Missionary Sunday" presentation at church. I want more! I want to see God working! I am excited for what it is He has planned for me to do for Him. I believe God. I believe God. I believe God. I may have to keep repeating it to myself for it to be more TRUE of me, but whatever it takes, it's what I want to be true. I believe God.
P.S. Our friends have abandoned their "American dream" by believing God and will be on their way to Uganda...to LIVE...in January. You can read about them here. If you, like me, have more than enough and would like to give it away, they could use your financial support in doing God's work loving on countless orphans there.
*All quotes, unless noted otherwise, are from David Platt's book.