Go and leave your life of sin. - John 8.11
Go and make disciples. - Matthew 28.19
Jesus’s words weren’t sedentary. When He taught people, He told them to use what they learned. When He healed people, He told them to live a righteous life. When He spared the woman caught in adultery, He told her to leave her life of sin behind. When He left the disciples, He told them to make more disciples. (Or, if you want to translate that other ways, He might have said “having gone” or “as you are going, make disciples.”) No matter how you look at it, its all about the going.
“Going" in English is a verb, a gerund to be precise. It’s an action! And as a human, you’re always going somewhere or possibly nowhere and that in turn is plotting the course of your life. So the question at hand is, “Where are you going?” Jesus said tough things to people who wanted to take detours. What did He really mean when He said “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”? Going can be tough. The men who asked to say goodbye to their family or bury their father weren’t asking anything that a normal person would deny. And yet... Jesus did just that. So we sit about and say, “Did He reallllly mean that?” I think sometimes Jesus had to remind people that He means business and it’s not the business of half-heartedness. Maybe He knew that the man’s family would persuade him to stay home or that the other man would have some other task after burying his father. And then another. And another. And soon the busyness would prevent him from going. That’s just personal conjecture, so don’t quote me, but I think Jesus knows each of us best. (To read these verses, check out Luke 9.57-62.) When He told the young rich man to sell everything he had, He didn’t turn around and say that to the next guy. That man went sad because Jesus asked him to give up what he valued most. Otherwise don’t you think he’d have been glad to do it? Jesus asks us to sacrifice our best. Our favorite. It’s the only way that we will truly begin to understand the value of what God has done for us. It’s not meant to be cruel: it’s meant to be a lesson.
The old covenant’s sacrificial system was not simply necessary for the forgiveness of sin; it also taught something valuable about the cost of sin. Sin requires death as payment and costs us our very best. It was always the best animals and the best crops. And all that could possibly do was roll back the punishment until God Himself could pay the price through Jesus. God let a part of Himself be brutally beaten and killed to pay for our sins. That was a steep price and it was one we couldn’t pay on our own. But do we understand the cost?
I pray that I never get too selfish with my life. I pray that I don’t lose sight of what my soul is worth to the God who made me. That I never forget what my sins have cost.
Going is a part of living for God. It’s a part of the sacrifice, whether big or small (and I think He has really called us to BIG - what that looks like for you might be different than for me). We’re called to be living sacrifices, but that means we’re continually offering ourselves up on the altar and dying to ourselves daily. It’s a decision we have to make every morning.
I have felt called to go somewhere else than where I am right now. Paul had his Macedonian vision; I had some sort of something about France. And I sincerely think that if I ignore it, I would be turning my back on something that I know that God has called me to. I have put my hands to the plow and will not look back. I will keep going.
** all Scripture paraphrases are my own, a mix of NIV and NASB depending on how I remembered it. Thanks to everyone and all the recent discussion that brought all these thoughts together. They've been lurking about in my head but only just now became a single cohesive blog post!