“Give me all of you! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU! ALL OF YOU. I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.”
This quote is striking, and a bit biting. As a “halfway” believer, a decision to do this is potentially damaging to my happiness. As I count the cost I start doubting my heart. I say to myself, “who can make this decision?” Can I really renounce my life like this? Perhaps this religion thing has gone too far?!
Then, I have to reflect that the Son of God has died for me. And that changes everything. Such a price, and such an investment was made. How can I resort to half measures? To respond like seems like to diminish His sacrifice.
I demand a religion that doesn’t demand anything. I want convenience, not commitment. (At least not total.) Yet the Lewis quote continues to maul me unmercifully. (How dare Lewis say such a thing?)
And yet I roll this truth around realizing that its logic is valid. The ‘pointy parts’ hook on me as I acknowledge their truth. There is a specific ultimatum that is inherent in this. If I don’t surrender, I will not be saved. Without denying myself, I will not be free. I can’t have it any other way.
I must surrender, and do it over and over again. I believe the basic terms of discipleship are as follows:
- we must be under Jesus’ authority,
- we must be seeking to follow His teaching,
- we must actively be doing what He did.
From a secular viewpoint this is brutally outrageous. It seems I’m being forced into a decision– but after all, He did die for me. (This point cannot be understated.) The Son of God gave Himself so that I could live. Jesus said it best,
26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26. NLT
Can anything so eloquent be so brutal? Jesus consistently demands everything. Perhaps this is the only way Christianity works? We must be renouncers as well as repenters. We must say, “Yes, God” when we want to live forever. In short, God must be all we live for.
A religion of half measures is not Christian, it is merely a convenience. To follow Jesus is to be radical; and perhaps insane (the worlds evaluation). But to love Jesus demands a “first-love” approach. Anything else is hardly adequate.
The gospel is radical, or it is nothing.