[originally published at Energion Discussion Network April 2016]
The most dangerous thing you can ever do is take Jesus seriously. If you like your life the way it is, then don’t do it. If you are comfortable and want things to stay the same, take Jesus teaching as mere metaphors and nice ideas, but don’t ever, ever, take Him seriously.
Was it a figure of speech when Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything he owned, give it to the poor, and only then he could be His disciple? (Mark 10:21) I’ve taught it that way. I’ve heard others teach it that way. Truth is, we were both wrong. Jesus simply told that man, “Hey, sell your stuff, give it to the poor, and then you can be my disciple. Oh, and by the way, you’ll be trading wealth in this passing, fleeting world for wealth in Heaven that can never pass away.” He said what He said. That’s what He said and that’s all He said!
We cling so tightly to the stuff of this life that we seldom experience the rich, deeper beauty that is available to us when we let go of this world. We are in love with houses that constantly need maintenance, cars that break down, entertainment that only lasts a few minutes, and all the while Jesus is saying, “That stuff will never satisfy the inner cravings you have for meaning. I’m offering you a better way.”
My wife Christina recently came back from leading a week-long mission team to Haiti to work and support our friends and activities there with our ministry Supply and Multiply. She came back from giving her life away for a week refreshed. A very sweet older woman in the church I Pastor told me, “She just looks so beautiful after having come back from Haiti.” The truth is that she looks the same. The difference is that her countenance is different. Her soul is smiling through her eyes and face.
You see, what she and I have discovered is that the more we give away this world the more God gives us things that really matter. The less money we have the more joy we have because we’ve used God’s money for things of eternal value. The less time we have, the better we sleep because we’ve used our life for lasting Kingdom things.
When you share a cup of cold water with the least of these, you are in turn unleashing the cool refreshing spiritual water of the Holy Spirit in your own life. That’s not to say that we serve to be served. That is simply to say that when you participate in God’s plan for your life in this world you step into the stream of His pure love and gain things far greater than things.
In Matthew 10:39 Jesus says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (ESV) Material stuff is only as valuable as its intended purpose. If I were drowning I’d not want a life preserver made of gold. Today, people are drowning in oceans of meandering meaningless connection to stuff that is dragging them down. The only way to float is to let go of those heavy earthen treasures so we can swim to shore grace.
If you love this world be careful taking Jesus too seriously. When you lose your life for His sake, His promise is that you’ll enter a life of sacrifice where His joy becomes your treasure.