“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
The Christian lifestyle and following Christ are not the same thing. In fact they are exactly opposed to each other. Endeavoring to make a lifestyle “Christian” is taking all things already in place in one’s life and polishing them up with a so-called Christian approval. There may be the appearance of sacrifice – but it is all for the sake of being able to keep what the person is coveting; worldliness and earthly treasures.
Living for Christ is the sacrifice of all things. All that are in a person’s life become nothing and the whole person is opened up to what God would put in it. These two may or may not have the same outward appearance but the state of the person’s heart is as different as day is to night. Jesus calls us to himself; not to “christianize” our lives. He doesn’t ask us to change our lifestyle or even ourselves; he demands that it all be given to him.
The Christian who sets out to follow Christ is tempted to hold onto his worldly treasures. One of the ways the enemy succeeds in holding so many back from truly following Jesus is by deceiving them that they need not seriously give all things up but just make them acceptable to their religious lifestyle. Many will pursue a Christian lifestyle and think they are following Jesus. They come up short on peace and joy and blame it on God. All they have heard they would gain is not really theirs so they disbelieve the promises of God.
A man may have a business and when he comes to Christ he is ready to lay it all down to go wherever his master would command. But instead he begins to think that this way is too radical and that he should merely revamp his business to coincide with his new found morals; biblical morals. There may be financial sacrifice in the revamping of his business and he mistakes these for actual suffering and sacrifice. This same man may change personal habits. Perhaps he stops drinking or cussing or hanging out with his rough friends. He makes changes to suit his conscience which has been pricked by the Holy Spirit but does not go so far as to actually please God. For to please God would require that he actually take his hands off of all things. His outward changes soothe him for a time. His busy-ness in creating and maintaining his new lifestyle make him feel quite productive, quite justified, but not free. He may be steadfast in teaching his children the bible, he may take up ministry. If he has not emptied his life before Jesus, he hasn’t followed him at all. If he has not ever offered up all of his life and waited for Jesus to fill it with God’s will; he has only managed to hold onto what he already had. He just made it more pleasing to his own eye. He is worse off than he was before because he is wondering why God’s promises seem to elude him. At least in his old life he didn’t care about God’s promises.
The man who follows Christ may also have a business and family and friends. When he meets Jesus he recognizes that everything must be given over to him. He knows that he has no ability to make right choices for himself; that he does not even know who he is or will be. He looks to Jesus to place in his hands what God wants him to handle for the sake of Jesus name. He might, by Christ’s decision, keep his business, maybe God will command that he change it a bit. He may begin to do things differently at home and his friendships may change. In fact, his outward life may not look much different from the man who claims Christ but follows the world, with one major exception. This man has peace, and it shows. This man is free, and he knows it. When the world shifts and the enemy prowls and things are threatened to be taken from him, he simply looks to his Master to whom he gave all things. He is following Jesus, and it is all he wants to do. He is not after a mere lifestyle but he is after life himself, Jesus the King.
Those who follow Christ may lay it all down to have God place much of their old life back into their hands; but made new in Christ. Then again, they may just make a “wreck” of it all. They may leave jobs for the pastorate, homes for missions, the good life for real life. They might lay down softball for Sunday School and only regret that they had not done it sooner. They may lay down the TV for the Bible and marvel at the deception they had been under. One thing is for certain, they will never long for what they had and they will walk with Jesus – hands empty.
- Ruben & Deb
- I met Jesus in March 1997 and soon after I began the practice of writing things down that were happening in my life with the Lord. Over the years, in the rare times that I have looked back into older journals, I have found that the things the Lord was showing me then are the same things He is showing me now. This does not make them less helpful, on the contrary, it makes them more helpful. God is exactly who He says He is and is doing all that He said He would. We need to be reminded of God and His faithfulness. The intention of this blog is to encourage God's people to continue and to grow in their confidence in Jesus Christ. The things posted here are from my journal and are meant to be an example of God's love and help as He loves and helps me. I would expect that you would have reason to trust Jesus Christ with your life (and death) if you haven't heard about Him so I invite you to go to my page "About Jesus" to see why you can and should have every confidence in Jesus and Jesus only for all things.