Christ once said that any who would follow Him must hate their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. Of course we know that this is really speaking of comparisons. That is to say, our love for Him ought to be such that our love for all others pales in comparison. The last couple of weeks I’ve been confronted with this. It’s an easy thing to say the words, it’s quite another to do the action.
I recently heard a song by Todd Agnew in which he says that “your creation is a temptation to me”. In the song he is lamenting the fact that Christ has commanded us to love Him, and follow Him, and have faith in Him, and cling to Him with all that we have, yet we allow these other things to get in the way: our comfort, our pride, our lust, our love of life. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic, I think. If you consider the things that keep you from a fuller, more complete relationship with Christ…… well, it’s a bit ridiculous. We give up the beauty of an intimate relationship with the Creator in favor of something temporal on this earth. I’m only going to be around here for another 50 or 60 years at best and I’ve spent my first 35 years clinging to things and people – preferring them above Christ. It just doesn’t make sense.
It’s like that monkey we’ve all heard about in the illustration. He’ll give up his freedom and everything in his happy little monkey life in order to get that little treat in the empty coconut shell. He clings to that treat even as the hunter approaches him with the club. Pretty soon, the monkey is either on a dinner plate or in a zoo all because he abandoned common sense in order to cling to the here and now. In my own life I’ve given up the rewards, benefits, and freedom found in a full, right relationship with Christ all in order to cling onto something temporal. At times that thing has been money, lust, pleasure, family…..it doesn’t matter what it is. When I’ve held onto it and preferred it above Christ, it has been sin. In truth, those things that seem to bring happiness don’t even come close to bringing the true joy that is only found in Christ. The Apostle Paul got hold of that truth from the moment of his conversion and never let it go. That’s the reason he could pen words like, “everything that was gain to me, I now count as loss”, or “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”.
I’ve sang songs hundreds – maybe thousands – of times that contained words like, “I surrender all”, and “my life, Lord, is Yours to control”, yet those words have been empty and hollow words as I’ve never let go of everything. In my head I’ve always understood that He is Lord of all, yet in practice I’ve never wanted Him to be Lord of all in my life. What foolishness! What arrogance!
What has frightened me all this time? Am I so arrogant as to think that my plans, my ambitions, my dreams are better than His? Am I afraid that He might take from me what belongs to Him in the first place? Am I worried that the manifold blessings He has allowed me to enjoy in this life will somehow just vanish if I give my all to Him? I wonder….have I thought all this time that following Him fully might bring pain and suffering rather than the true joy and blessings that are found only by abiding in Him?
I look back on wasted years and only one word comes to mind……..”fool”.