Years ago I remember playfully altering the words of the hymn by Judson W. Van Deventer titled “I Surrender All.” I wanted to point out the absurdity of partial commitment to discipleship: “Some to Jesus I surrender; some to him I reluctantly give. I will occasionally love and trust him, in his presence periodically live.” The musical meter doesn’t fit, but then again, neither does the sentiment. God desires nothing less than all of us, from the top of our heads to the bottom of our feet.
After Jesus makes the costly demand of discipleship clear, Peter longs for reassurance: “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you.” Jesus offers blessed assurance to those who have left family, friends, and livelihoods behind. Jesus promises they will receive much more in the coming age. Our past and present is nothing compared to the abundant life God calls us toward. The call still goes out today. What do you need to leave behind in order to follow Jesus without reservation or reluctance?
The values of God’s kingdom turn the values of the world upside down, or perhaps we may more accurately say, right-side up. In God’s right-side-up kingdom, the poor have good news brought to them, lepers are invited to the table, and tax collectors and sinners are embraced as friends. In Jesus, God begins the restoration, renewal, and transformation of the world as we know it. Survival of the fittest is the cutthroat call to arms in a world where the strong prey on the weak. Jesus points us away from this lie to the kingdom where the “first will be last” and the “last will be first.” That is a vision and a calling worthy of our very lives. It is a calling to which we give our all.
Lord, I pray for the strength to surrender all to follow you. “Worldly pleasures all forsaken; take me, Jesus, take me now.” Amen. (UMH, no. 354)
Faithful people still have questions for God. Job wishes he could sit down with God and plead his case because he wants God to justify what has happened to him. The psalmist, traditionally identified as David, also feels abandoned by God and wonders why God is not coming to his aid. God can handle our questions. Job wanted an advocate, and Hebrews says that Jesus now fills that role for us. He is our great high priest and understands our sufferings, so we may boldly approach him for help. In Mark, Jesus deals with the challenge of money. It is a powerful force and can come between God and us if we cling to our resources instead of holding them loosely with thanksgiving for God’s provision.
• Read Job 23:1-9, 16-17. When have you, like Eliphaz, attributed your own suffering or that of others to wickedness on your part or on theirs? How often do you find yourself blaming others for the situations in which they find themselves?
• Read Psalm 22:1-15. How could your prayer life be more honest and transparent? What feelings do you hold back?
• Read Hebrews 4:12-16. When God shines the spotlight on your soul, what does God see?
• Read Mark 10:17-31. How do you square your “wealthy” life with Jesus’ call to discipleship?
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