Tag Archives: commitment

Everything or Nothing

If at first you don’t succeed, wingsuit flying is not for you.  Watching videos of those guys flips my stomach.  Especially the takeoff.  They climb to the peak of a high cliff, teeter on the edge, count to three and dive, headfirst, nearly straight down.  I suppose it’s to build up enough speed.  There’s no halfway in a wingsuit jump.  No easing into it.  It’s everything or nothing.

Same thing with Jesus.  Everything or nothing.  People ease up close to Jesus, spend time talking and singing about Jesus and read books about Jesus but none of that matters.  About many who called Him Lord, Jesus said, “I never knew you.”  There’s no halfway; you gotta jump.  Headfirst.  Jesus said it like this:

34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  (Mark 8:34-35)

Deny himself” does not necessarily mean giving everything to the poor (although it might mean that in some circumstances).  It means letting go of fear and the overwhelming urge to keep yourself safe.  For a wingsuit jumper, it would be ignoring the part of your brain that is screaming, “Are you out of your mind????”   For the would-be disciple, it is abandoning all half-way measures, all plans B in case it doesn’t work out.  If you try to save your life you’ll never find it in Him.  It’s everything or nothing.

Take up his cross” does not mean to commit suicide.  It means to let go of all the things you used to think defined life.  Money, fame, popularity, success, luxury, good looks,  fun – all these things are pursued by people who think they will provide a satisfying, full life.  The would-be disciple doesn’t necessarily become penniless or unpopular.  He lets go of the idea that those are important.  He recognizes that full life, satisfying life can only be found in the company of Jesus.

Follow Me” means to pay attention, learn and imitate the attitudes and actions of Jesus.  Not the bland, passive Jesus of paintings and Sunday School books but the robust, free-spirited, radical, passionate Jesus.  To follow Jesus is to let go of your own plans and let Him take you on a real adventure.

Perhaps these imperfect descriptions of Jesus’ cryptic challenge sound repressive and personally suffocating.  My experience has been just the opposite.  Instead of letting the fickle, competitive world set the agenda for how to live, I’ve discovered the One Who created me can set me free to be all He made me to be.

But you can’t get there tentatively or halfway.  You gotta jump.  Everything or nothing.

Taproot – Part 3

Are you afraid to love, believing it will constrain you?  Certainly some neurotic relationships constrain us, but these are not real love.  Real love releases false constraints, setting us free to be all we really are.  That is the kind  of love relationship God wants for us with Himself (See: previous two posts).

It seems counterintuitive: How can submitting to a relationship with someone else, making a commitment, result in more freedom?  Picture those flying suits people wear to jump from high cliffs and soar.  It is strapping oneself into the tight bonds of the suit that allows the freedom to fly.  Additionally, unless they fully commit and jump, they will not fly but fall.  Love works like that, especially love mutually extended between you and God. 

You can see the relationship between love, commitment and freedom in the following two quotes from Jesus.

“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”   –  (John 14:23)

The word, “obey,” makes us cautious and reluctant, but it is that commitment that leads to freedom.  The Father and Son come and “make their home” with us.  This happens with the life of the Holy Spirit in our souls.  The word for “make their home”, also translated as “abide” is used in this saying of Jesus:

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to (literally, abide or make your home in…) my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  –  (John 8:31-32 with my added note)

It is the love commitment of making one’s home in the teachings of Jesus, the ways of God, that causes us to soar in freedom.  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b) 

If you are standing at the edge of that cliff, worried that loving God will inhibit you or constrain you, do not hesitate;  Go for it!  Fully commit and watch how this relationship of love spreads your wings.