My friend walked up to me weeping. I asked him what was wrong. He responded, "I just read the Gospel of Luke. I think I need to sell everything and follow Jesus. ... But that's not what makes me sad; it's that I am so far from Christ. All these years I've been following Him and I'm just now realizing what it means to actually follow Him. He was willing to give everything for me, and I must give everything for Him."
I cried too. It changed my life. I wanted to respond with some scholastic copout about metaphors or hyperbole, but I knew that wasn’t the truth. Christ has called us to give everything for Him.
But I must tell you that God is still working this great work in me. And as for my friend, I recently brought this story up to him, and he said that God is still doing the great work in him as well. What we share in common is that Christ has seriously transformed both of us since that day.
As Easter has been marketed, sold, and bought, so we have done the same with our souls. To use a cliché from the epic '90s Christian rock era, we're not "sold out for Jesus"; we've sold out to the world. There is so much truth in the statement, "be in the world, but not of it." But the world sees a great lie when they look at the state of Christianity: statistically, we’re not living like Christ called us to, and that hinders the witness we’re meant to be. We have invested in expensive buildings and grounds, even doing so in the name of the "cornerstone." Meanwhile, the poor are dying. There are still unreached people all over the world. I could throw the facts at you about how bad the situation is, but you already know, and you also know that you should do something about it. It's the great enslavement of our generation. No one in this world should die from hunger or thirst; there is enough for everyone, but us with much to give aren’t giving.
If we're really honest with ourselves, we as Christians, as a whole, are as much of the world as we are in it. If you think me merely a cynic, and even if you don't, read the Gospel of Luke this week.
We as Christians have lost the passion of Passion Week. Yet, Christ's passion, instilled in us, is meant to be the primary factor that makes us Christian. Christ died for us, and we're called to be willing to do the same (Luke 9:23-25).
William Wilberforce, the great abolitionist put it this way:
"We turn from [Christ's work] coldly, or at best profess it negligently, as a thing of no account of estimation. But a due sense of its value would be assuredly impressed on by the diligent study of the Word of God, that blessed repository of divine truth and consolation. ... Reason dictates, Revelation commands; 'Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God' (Romans 10:17); 'Search the Scriptures' (John 5:39); 'Be ready to give to every one a reason of the hope that is in you' (1 Peter 3:15). ... Yet, it is not undeniable that with the Bible in our houses, we are ignorant of its contents; and that hence, in a great measure, it arises, that the bulk of the Christian world know so little, and mistake so greatly, in what regards the religion which they profess?" (Kevin Charles Belmonte (editor), A Practical View of Christianity; some punctuation changed).
5 Days in 4 Gospels Series (from the Archives)
P.S. I’ll be back to our spiritual gifts and offices series soon.