“The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house…So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…” – Genesis 12:1,4
What if I told you the call of Christ isn’t easy? What if I told you the call of Christ may require you to sacrifice important things such as your family, your friends, your hometown, your job, your comforts, etc.? What if I told you the call of Christ could be lonely? What if I told you the call of Christ could be…miserable?
I can hear Jesus now, standing on his platform on the market street corner, shouting in his car salesman voice, “Come follow Me! I can promise a lifetime of suffering, hardship, and persecution! Come one, come all! Yes, even you small children are welcomed into a life of long-suffering. Want to be homeless? Follow Me! Want to be hated? Follow Me! Want to be rejected? Follow Me!”
Not exactly selling points for the Christian faith. But somehow I bought into His pitch and decided to go for it.
Bags packed, car loaded down, I hugged my family goodbye and made my way North toward a decision that would shape and forever change my faith. And that was just the beginning.
That decision led to other decisions, like getting married, moving out of the country, and then moving to a new state with new people, new churches, new job opportunities, new struggles, new everything.
Some days seem so bright and full of life all I can do is exhale breaths of praise and thanks. But some days don’t look like that at all. Some days are a battle to utter a solitary thanks. Some days doubts and questions paint the horizon instead of yellow sunrises and pink and purple mountaintops.
Despite these days of glory and gloom I have to make the choice to faithfully follow Christ…even if that means moving out of Small Town, Alabama; even if that means moving away from my family; even if that means leaving my friends behind; even if that means living with a bunch of smelly boys (see previous posts regarding Joel Home).
My faith and my obedience cannot be based on my emotions, my circumstances, or my conditions.
My faith and my obedience must be based on Christ, His cross, and my identity in both.
I don’t get to choose the conditions and circumstances in which Christ calls me, but I do get to choose whether I respond to the call.
I get to choose complete abandonment to Christ and complete detachment from this world and her disillusionments.
When Christ calls me to an act of obedience I must be willing to forfeit all of those attachments I have to the things of this world.
There are three things I wish more Christians (myself included) understood better:
- It’s okay to say “Yes” to things the world deems unwise, foolish, or even fanatical. Too often we allow reason, logic, and common sense to tip the scales of our faith. Faith is not faith if it doesn’t require trust that God will guide, provide, and sustain. This is not an invitation to throw wisdom out the window, as Scripture clearly states that wisdom is to be pursued (Proverbs 4:7), but it is an invitation to seek Christ over the opinions and wisdom of man.
- It’s okay to divert from the norm that has been established by your circle of influence. The adage “But this is how we’ve always done things” is no longer applicable in the family of Christ. As Children of God we may be asked to do some things that are already in line with family or cultural traditions. These tasks will be easier to obey and will come with less conflict and opposition. However, as Children of God, we may be asked to do some things that are not in line with the norms of our family or our culture. These tasks will ensure more struggles, more opposition, more doubts, and more isolation. But aren’t these also characteristics of the life of Jesus?
- It’s okay to struggle once we’ve said, “Yes” to the call of Christ. Jesus gave His warning when He told us the Son of Man has no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20). Our culture prefers to teach us that if we’re struggling we must’ve somehow missed the will of God, but Paul plainly states, “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him” (Philippians 1:29). We must remember and cling to the promise given that, regardless of circumstance, we are never left alone (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Are you hesitating about a task God is calling you to do? Do you find yourself seeking out human wisdom more so than the wisdom of Christ? Are you afraid to step out in faith for fear of judgment or rejection from those around you? Have you said “Yes” to God, but are finding yourself struggling to continue in that “Yes”?
Dear friends, I pray strengthened faith and strengthened hands for you. Hold on to the promises given and cling to the true Giver of Life. I pray boldness for you if you are debating an act of obedience. I pray wisdom for you if you are being asked to do something you know will mark you as different or rebellious. I pray peace for you if you are struggling to live out your abandonment to Christ. I pray we can, like Abraham, have the faith to “[become] a stranger and sojourner in order to gain the promised land” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
“Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’” – Mark 10:29-31
“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.’” – 1 Corinthians 2:9