My son, Sean, is in Uganda with a missions team for a couple of weeks. His note yesterday said “Church is just different with those that have nothing … God just kinda crushes you with the spirit of reckless abandon they show up with. Such joy.” His words kept echoing around in my head for the rest of the day as I thought about how cluttered my own spiritual life becomes; wrapped around buildings, music, prayers for blessings that have so little to do with the actual pursuit of knowing Christ Jesus.
In my musing I remembered my own parents’ commitment. In their little Iowa church they sang a Gospel song that was popular in the early 1960’s – “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold. I’d rather be His than have riches untold. I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands, I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand. Than to be the king of a vast domain … “ (George Beverly Shea) God took them at their word! A couple of years later, in response to the Spirit’s prompting, Dad sold his business and moved us to New York City where he planted Sunday Schools in poor, crime-ridden neighbors to reach children with the Gospel. It proved to be a tough calling.
Here is my question to us today. Is my heart fully desiring the pursuit of Christ or do I just want enough “Jesus” to assure me of blessings now and Heaven to come? It is quite possible to create a life for ourselves that is comfortable, enjoys ‘enough,’ and conveniently forgets the call of Jesus – “Take up your cross, come and follow Me.”
This is not a scold, my friend. It is a conversation of my own heart to which you are invited to listen.
Am I ready to pursue Him with ‘a spirit of reckless abandon?’
Paul did and wrote about it. “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11, NIV)
I want to know Christ; not just about Him,
not just a little of Him,
but to know His heart and to be filled with His Spirit.
Let’s not confuse this aspiration with religious fanaticism. God has given us many gifts that we enjoy with gratitude. Misery and a martyr’s spirit may make you appear to be devout. However, it is quite possible to remain self-centered and Christ-less while draped in the black garments that seem to signal rejection of this world.
The Scripture bluntly calls us to more: “So, then, if with Christ you’ve put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? “Don’t touch this! Don’t taste that! Don’t go near this!” Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they’re just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important.” (Colossians 2:20-23, The Message)
There is no 3 step prescription for godliness, no easy road to intimacy with Christ Jesus.
But, He can be known, loved, and served with joy. Let’s pursue Him with reckless abandon, professing “I want to know Christ.” In Him we discover great joy, purpose, and eternal life!
The word from the Word – “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things ,,, Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience … Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:1-2, 12, 15-16, NIV)
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today
I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
I’d rather be true to His holy name
He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead
George Beverly Shea © Words: Public Domain