When I was 5 or 6 years old I really wanted to be an astronaut. I mean really really wanted to become an astronaut. I had the space sheets, watched all the shuttle launches on television, and even had an astronaut Cabbage Patch doll (yes, I had a doll!). Anyway, I really wanted it, and when my family moved to the Space Coast of Florida, literally 10 minutes from the shuttle launch pad, I thought it would be perfect. Unfortunately, there are a lot of requirements to being an astronaut. You have to be good at science, and math, or a military pilot, and the training is pretty intense. I just wanted to float around in space… I didn’t want to have to do all that work just to float around. Astronauts have a commitment to something more than just the “coolness” of being in space. They have a commitment to research and development, to discovery, to adventure, and to a lot more. Well, my outlook changed quickly, and I wantd to be something else. Wanting to be something and actually being something are two very different things.
Christians are like that quite often… or I should say people that want to be Christians are like that. They want the assurance of heaven, and the feeling of not being guilty, but not the commitment to the tough things. Jesus said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39. And again, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24. Those are some tough phrases. Is Jesus really saying to love him more than our families? Is Jesus saying the Christian life is not one where we will simply live easy and wait for heaven?
The fact is people want to be Christians without actually being like Christ. Christ denied himself, he denied those that were closest to him for the sake of God, he prioritized his life to glorify the Father. But we think we are making some huge sacrifice if we go to church one or two Sundays a month. We think it is some huge cross to bear to give of our income back to God for use in his church. We think it is being Christlike to bless our food at dinner but curse the guy driving next to us.
I’m not leaving myself out of this little diatribe… there are too many things that I don’t prioritize around glorifying God, but it is a call to all of us to look to him first and foremost. It is a call to get out bed a little earlier on Sunday morning to worship him, and make that your top priority. It is a call for us to schedule our lives, and the lives of our children, in such a way that we develop our relationship with him above all else. It is a call for us to rearrange our attitudes and, yes, our personalities to be a light for people to see him. This may mean saying absolutely no to somethings. This may mean saying absolutely yes to other things. This may mean sacrificing times of sleep and relaxation. This may mean sacrificing times of busyness and hurry. This may mean smiling and engaging in conversation with people when you would rather keep your head down. This may mean spending time really listening to people when they seem to be hurting. This may mean challenging the Christians around you to deepen their commitment to the Lord.
This definitely means challenging yourself…