I just got off the phone with an old friend and drove over to Starbucks to keep my wife company as she works hard to deliver those necessary concoctions some of us count on for simple survival. These two examples, that of my friend and that of my wife, serve as constant reminders that when all you have is Christ, nothing is off-limits. There is nothing He can’t ask you to give up, nothing that He can’t demand of you, because if He is the ultimate treasure, there is nothing else worth holding on to.
My friend and his wife are moving to Uganda in August to be missionaries. They will be living in a concrete structure with some sort of tin roof and using a hole in the ground as a toilet. I don’t say that to be irreverent but to illustrate the point. Simple pleasures, friends, families, securities and comforts, these are just a few of the things my friend and his wife will be giving up. All in the name of Christ and for His Kingdom.
As you know, my wife works at Starbucks. It really is a thankless job filled with crazy customers, low pay, and monumental amounts of unnecessary stress. Why does my wife work this job? She is supporting me as I go to seminary. She loves Jesus in a tangible way, a way that sacrifices her own comfort for Him and His Kingdom. Granted, we are always looking for a job switch-something that doesn’t involve coffee and crazy people (alas! where can we run from the crazies?)- but the fact that she would take the job speaks oceans about her love for Jesus.
I find that I’m often unwilling to part with, often unwilling to undergo any amount of suffering, that will tear me away from my little gods, my little pleasures, “rights”, and comforts that characterize my Western existence. Are there any other people out there like me? I forget about Jesus. I have forgotten that all things will pass away, but He will remain. I have forgotten that as soon as I claimed the greatest Gift ever offered to mankind, I forfeited my perceived claim to all lesser gifts. Our forfeiture is no deceptively fine print at the bottom of our salvation covenant but a real recognition that no other gift, no other person, place, thing, or conception, is worth comparing to who we have: Christ.
It is a good evening to be reminded that our lives are to be lived with open hands, hands that proclaim, “Nothing is off-limits. You can have it all.” Paul was on to something: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…” (Phil. 3:8-9). It’s time we buckle up, suck it up, suffer well and remember that, because we have Jesus and will have Him for eternity, what can He not ask of us?