By Aaron Daffern
Grow up and be responsible.
Get a good education, get married, and provide for your family.
Hopefully, if all works out well, you’ll have 2.5 kids and be mortgaged up to your eyeballs. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work, right? Aren’t we taught as kids to fit in? Don’t we cringe if, as parents, we find out that our child is the weirdo in class, the one who smells funny and eats glue? We might like to be a tad different ourselves, but heaven forbid if our kids don’t fit into the world’s mold. Society teaches us to be rational, to make informed decisions, and always live with and eye on retirement.
An interesting dynamic in the gospels, though, is Jesus’ call for those around Him to leave everything and follow Him. When a scribe came to Him and said that he would follow Jesus wherever He went, Jesus’ reply was (loosely), “Are you sure you can handle the commitment? It’s not all glam and glitz” (Matthew 8:19-20). Jesus told His disciples that they had to give up everything, even themselves, to follow Him (Matthew 16:24, Luke 14:33).
These statements are radical. They should shock us – destroy us. Instead, we yawn and wait for the preacher to make his next point. They are about as exciting as hearing about some guy coming back from the dead. WAKE UP! Jesus is calling us to leave everything and follow Him, not placidly make our next mortgage payment and cut a check to the United Way.
If you can truthfully say that what you’re currently doing in your walk with God is working, then keep it up. If you are closer to Him than you were three years ago, if your life reflects the glory of His Son, then let us in on the secret. I, on the other hand, feel stifled and bored in American Christianity. Only idiots keep doing the same things over and over and expect a different result. Something has to change.
Anarchy is not God’s plan. I don’t think it’s wise if everyone sells their house and quits their job for Jesus. What I am advocating is moving away from a life of independence and seeking God in a life of dependence. If you are currently providing for all of your needs and desires, than you are not living in faith, and that is sin (Romans 14:23). Can you do everything required of you in a day under your own power, including going to church and worshiping God? If so, where’s the faith? How does that require you to depend on God?
Jesus’ call to His disciples sounded crazy to contemporaries and to us today. Leave everything? Job? Family? Just get up and follow some guy around the Middle East? The disciples aren’t remembered for being rational, but for walking in faith – for being out of their minds, but trusting God’s. I don’t know what God is calling you to do in faith – that’s between you and Him. I guarantee you, though, that if it makes sense, it isn’t from Him. God is interested in His glory, and He doesn’t receive much praise and adoration when you only do things that you are capable of. He is glorified when He accomplishes through you something that is impossible for you to do.
God never promises to be rational, but loving. Living for him might not make sense in the eyes of your community, even your church, but who was normal in the Bible? John the Baptist living in the desert, clothed in camel’s hair and eating locusts? Paul, being chased all around Asia Minor by an angry horde of Jews proclaiming that some guy killed in Jerusalem a few decades back is actually alive? David, hiding out in caves and running from the man that is currently occupying the throne he’s been anointed for? You’d be hard-pressed to find a pattern of normalcy in the Bible for people that were passionately devoted to God.
I honestly don’t think we can have it both ways. Just as we can’t serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24), we can’t love God and the world. Friendship with the world is actually hostility toward (James 4:4). If you want to follow the world, go for it. Fit in. Blend into the masses and don’t stick out. If you want a life of adventure, however, God’s your man. Just don’t expect to win any popularity contests.
If you liked this article, check out: How to Find God’s Will for Your Life
Aaron has been a school teacher for ten years in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. He is transitioning to full-time ministry in River Oaks, TX with his wife and three children.