Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What would you give up for Jesus?

I am honored to be reading Interrupted again, and again I love it and am irritated by it.  I have been asking myself this question for quite some time now:
What would I struggle to give up if Jesus wanted to use my life to make a difference in the world?
Coincidentally that is the same question that Jen proposed we post for discussion regarding her book, but it reads this way:
What would YOU struggle to give up if Jesus wanted to use YOUR life to make a difference in the world?

Luke 18:20-28New International Version (NIV)

20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
The first time I read this scripture, I remember wondering how this would apply to me; because I am not wealthy.  As the years have gone by, and I have listened, learned and researched; I have discovered that my family is very more ways than one...but for this post, I am specifically referring to monetary wealth and "stuff".  According to Jen's research, if you make $35,000/year; you are in the top 4 percent of the wealthiest people in the world.  If you make $50,000/year, you are in the top 1 percent of the wealthiest people in the world.  1.2 billion people live on 23 cents/day, that is $83.95/year.  My family spends that or more monthly on dance class, eating out, gasoline, clothing items, and the list goes on.  I remember thinking what do we spend our money on, and why don't we have any leftover?  We are not blowers and goers, and I don't consider my family frivolous; but we definitely are in some areas.  My kids don't ask for a lot, they just don't; but there are times when (one in particular) will suggest we eat out, or get some ice cream, or a frappuccino.  I'm not saying those things are bad, and we have some wonderful family time together doing those things together.  What I am saying is that I want my children and myself to never take those things for granted.  I find myself often irritated at our children's, but mostly my own...and I do admittedly say "there are starving people in the world", but I don't say it lightly.  I want them to know it's true and when I say "NO" to something, I want them to understand that they NEVER do without.  I have explained the stats to them.  I can't tell you how many times I've said, "for the price of one happy meal, we can feed a starving child for a month".  Needless to say, we never eat happy meals anymore.  If we spent $5.00/day on frappuccions, that would be $1,825/year.  We could sponsor 7.6 Aids orphans each year, through our church, for the price of one cold coffee drink per day.  Imagine how many starving children we could feed.  I'm not trying to guilt anyone into giving up their coffee, believe me I love my coffee.  I am just trying to make myself, my kids and others aware of how we spend and often take these things for granted.  On a side note, when I use the term "we"; it is generalized.  There are many people who do a lot, and I am not judging anyone on how they choose to spend their money.  I am grateful that we are able to choose.  So think about it, what would you struggle to give up for Jesus?  Would it be "stuff", money, status, relationships?  Would you give up your life?  I would struggle to give up a lot, some things that I would willingly talk about and some that I am too embarrassed to mention.  I like my "stuff", and giving it up would not be easy peasy.  However I have started to embrace the "struggle" over the last 8 years or so and have started doing more and giving more, and I have realized that one person can make a difference.....ONE PERSON!  But just when I start feeling like I'm doing good and patting myself on the back, I read something like this:
"He laid down His own life at the appointed time-not under coercion or constraint, not because His reckless message finally caught up with Him.  Jesus assured us that every time it seemed He was being forced against His will, He wasn't.  He was choosing that.  Embracing that moment, the culmination of God's redemptive plan for mankind.  All of heaven waited with baited breath as the King became the Lamb and humanity was finally rescued."  (page 55)   Dang it Jen Hatmaker.....thanks!  Thanks a lot!  I am talking about giving up cold coffees, and Jesus chooses His life.  I pray that I will listen to where He leads me, and embrace what He tells me....especially if it means giving up everything.

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