Thursday, September 19, 2013
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ ... So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
(Luke 14:v27-30, v33-35, ESV)
Let's draw some parallelism here. Like the example in the passage taught by Jesus, I counted my cost to open a cafe and coffee roastery seriously at the start of the year. I did the budgets, consulted with industry people and talked to finance people to seek opinions. I then decided that coffee is too risky to be my livelihood (for now) and kept it as a hobby. So.. As a hobby, I make 2-3 cups a day. I occasionally read about coffee things on the forums. I may occasionally run or attend cupping sessions and talk to other coffee snobs. I don't make a living out of it and I don't live and breath it. Does that sound vaguely familiar to your Christian life? You read 1-2 chapters of the Bible everyday, you attend church on Sundays, weekly you do bible study and occasionally you attend camp and some conferences...
So, I ask again... Like what I'm starting to worry about myself... Is Christianity really ... em.. your hobby?
The heavy words in the above charge by Jesus has been weighing down on me and challenging me about this point. Words like "bear cross", "renounce all", etc... I did further digging in various books. Like "Guidance and the Voice of God" by Phillip Jensen and Tony Payne and "Do you feel called by God" by Michael Bennett. It seems that Christ-centerdness and being a disciple is hard work! It's not a feeling. No wonder God equates it to a marriage...
To "bear my cross" is to be constantly out looking to seek holiness and to be sanctified by God. To "renounce all" require me to think all the time in all that I do based on what God's plan and command is for me as a Christian and not what the world dictates of me. It's amazing once you look, there is really all there is to be learnt about how to live in this world all written in Bible. It's so simple yet so profoundly hard to achieve without help... Paraphrasing from Michael Bennet's book:
In order not to make Christianity my hobby, but to be a CHRISTian, I have to be a disciple of Jesus and to grow in Christlikeness.
The tough part is how?
Friends, I hypothesis that by merely reading the bible, doing bible study, going to church and even going church camp is insufficient! I'm not saying it's not needed, but just insufficient. The change in me was gradual and is still and always will be happening...the passages like the ones above was allowed to convict me, to grip me in such a way that it "transferred" from head knowledge to Soul and Spirit conviction. The key is to ALLOW it to happen.. to "transfer".
Disclaimer - I do not intend what I'm about to say next as being judgemental but merely pure sadness and concern: Truly sadly, I've seen so many Christians that I've known for the longest time that has the head knowledge, the conviction did not get transferred. It's stuck in the head... How can I say that? Well, as they say, actions speaks louder than words... Don't get me wrong I am as guilty as anyone on this too.
I'm sorry that this post seemed "blurry" and long, but this was my version in my head of the challenge P.Steve used and was borrowed from John Piper, (abridged/paraphrassed) "If all the best stuff in world, all the pleasures, the best food, the best sceneries, everything awesome was in heaven, but Christ was not there with us. Would you be satisfied?" If Christianity was my hobby only, I'd probably be.. Satisfied. I'd be living in heaven now! At the moment I admit that I might not love Jesus enough to say that I would need Him there in heaven to be satisfied... I love my wife too much.. I love my kids too much.. I love my parents too much... I love the money that my job gives too much.. I love my coffee machine too much... I love all the self glory these earthly things give me too much...
My prayer is that the gradual transition is for me to love Christ that much that all I am worried about anymore is the ultimate discipleship of myself and the people around me and their salvation. I want to learn to stop thinking "I love Kat, she loves me, I am happy" but to think "How is Kat's discipleship going?"... Ultimately, I want to truly crave the statement "Well done, good and faithful servant" when eternity comes.