“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life."
“Never, never, never, never, give up!”
There is an unspoken posturing found in the Church today that tells us that there is something inherently wrong with giving up. Of course, the context of the circumstance reveals whether or not giving up would be appropriate. For example many people are encouraged to give up bad habits in order to make their life better. But in movies, on television, in books and magazines, we are bombarded with story after story that inspires us because someone did not give up when it would have been so easy to do so.
Recently, a reminder was given to a group of missionaries that “giving up” was a normal and natural attribute of the Christian life and also of the missionary life. The Bible is filled with stories that teach us that following obediently after God does mean that we will give up much in order to do so.
Abraham gave up. He gave up his homeland, his family, and his plans for he was told to go to a place that would be revealed to him at a later time. Jonah, we see in 2 Kings 14:25, was minding his business, faithfully fulfilling his responsibilities and duties as a prophet, serving his God and the people of Israel. Then one day he was asked to give up both his comfort and his control in order that he might go to Nineveh and preach salvation to a people doomed for destruction.
The disciples left their business interest and occupations behind when they heard the call, “Follow Me.” Jesus Christ, himself left the comfort of heaven and the company of His Father. He also emptied himself in order to take on the form of a man. He gave His life on the cross so that all who follow Him might live forever. Why then, does it feel so foreign to us that we would actually need to give up comfort, control, possessions, or any number of other pieces of our life as we strive to be more like Christ each and every day? Missionaries are often held up as shining examples of those who have given up so much in order to follow their call. For several of our colleagues around the world, much has been and continues to be given up, even life itself for the cause of Christ.
I guess a more appropriate question may simply be, “what am I not willing to give up, even if it means others will be denied the opportunity to hear, understand, and respond to Christ's love”?