When determining how to live out our faith in Christ, it seems we can get very selective about which parts of the Bible we will choose to apply to our lives. We relish the parts that tell us how much God loves us, so we’ll definitely emphasize His love in our lives. Everyone likes to be loved, so we’ll even share that love with others. The book of Proverbs tells us that if we keep God first in our life then He will guide our steps. I’ll take that one as well, because who wouldn’t want a little direction? I really like the part where Jesus says that all who come to Him will find rest; He followed that up later by telling us He would send His Holy Spirit to be a comforter and a counselor for us. There is no doubt that these are overwhelming benefits, ones that few would ever turn down. As icing on the cake, we also get to spend eternity with Jesus in Heaven. It’s no wonder that Christianity is attractive to so many, and indeed it is a great mystery as to why so many reject it.
Then there are those other, more pesky passages of Scripture that we’d rather just pretend did not exist. We’re happy to accept the good stuff, the things that make our own lives happier and more pleasurable. But what about the Scriptures that tell us to go out into the entire world telling others about Jesus? We recoil and assume these words are for those odd, super-spiritual missionary types who were apparently born with a slide projector in their hands. We defer to mystical words like “calling” to rationalize away why those passages don’t apply to us. Truthfully, most of us do not even dare to go out into our own neighborhoods proclaiming the glory of Christ, much less into the entire world.
There are other passages that tell us we must take up our cross if we would follow Christ. I don’t normally wake up looking for an excuse to carry around an instrument of torture and death. Those words must be for those in other countries who live under oppressive governments. Being born in America or other free parts of the world, we are happy to believe that we don’t have to endure persecution because of our beliefs. Of course we still have to deal with the parts of Scripture that tell us if we follow Christ we must forsake our family, risk being homeless, and sell everything we own and give the proceeds to the poor. Again, those words are for other folks, not for us. We’re good with the peace, joy and love stuff.
We cannot pick and choose which parts of the Bible we will follow if we are serious about being a follower of Christ. Jesus gave up everything for us, and He demands the same in return. Each one of us is called to forsake our families, to sell what we have to care for the poor, to give up our safety and security, and to endure trials and persecution as we go throughout the world telling others about the love and glory of our great King. To accept only certain parts of Jesus’ teaching is to reject them all. No one is exempt from any part of His suffering, just as no one is overlooked by any measure of His blessing. Each one of us is gifted in different ways, and how we live out our calling will look different from person to person. The calling, however, is the same, regardless of its manifestation. We all are called to suffer, to go and to tell. The goal of our lives, the reason we were created, is so that we might demonstrate the glory of God to others. We cannot pick and choose our way through the Bible. We must embrace it all if we are to grasp what it means to be a follower of Jesus. If we give everything to Him, He will not fail to pour out all of His love, mercy and grace on each of us. He longs to give us all that He is, but this requires that we give Him all that we are. We were created for the glory of God, and if we would receive that glory in full, then we must pour out our lives for Him. There is no half way in total devotion. We are all called to one mission. Let’s live it fully.