Saturday, 14 April 2012
I grew up in a very heavily Christian home, and I went to a private Christian school. I became a Christian at age 5. No joke, I gave my life to God on my 5th birthday. And even though I was young, I understood what it meant, and I made the choice with the same commitment I have now.
I've been a Christian all my life, and I grew up with the knowledge that my life was not my own, but that doesn't make the thought of giving myself up any easier. It's something I always knew I had to do, and I will admit it definitely influenced some of the choices I made in life. Had I thought my life was 'mine' and my own responsibility, I would have done things to become more financially successful, for instance.
But even though I grew up developing a personal relationship with God, and even though I have a lot of text book knowledge about the Bible, this is something I still struggle with. I'm struggling with it right now, in fact. It is front-and-center my biggest struggle, something God keeps bringing me back to.
I'm realizing I don't know how to 'give my whole life over' to following God. I don't really know what that means. I'm willing to give up everything for God. My home, my spouse, the town I've always lived in. Any part of my sense of identity. But is it something I have to physically do? Or is it enough to loosen my grip and allow God to take what He will?
I don't think things are standard or everyone. We're all different people on different paths, and one person's cross is not necessarily any easier than any other's. What is easy for one person is hard, or even impossible, for another, and it's not because one person is strong and another is weak.
I grew up with a skewed sense of self, and I am now struggling with an ambiguous sense of identity. I could never lay claim to myself, and now I don't know what 'self' there is to give up. Because nothing is mine. Nothing has ever been mine. So I don't know how to give my life to God.
The choice to take up one's cross and follow God is the choice to die to self, and each person has their own choice to make. No matter what their background is, the choice to give your life fully to Christ and be His disciple, no longer a person in your own right, is always monumental. That's why it's a choice so few make, even Christians.
I'm seeing more and more that there is something different besides just being saved and living a relatively sinless life. There is discipleship, which goes steps further and stops living life. Discipleship is to take oneself out of the regular world -- or perhaps more correctly, to allow God to take you out -- and live differently; to step away from the machine of job-marriage-kids-house regularity; to become separate from the world.
Jesus tells us this in Mark 8:34-38 and Matthew 16:24-28. Also of note to read are Matthew 20:1-16, Matthew 10:16-23 & Matthew 10:24-39. We also see this in the life of the 12 disciples, both during the life of Jesus and after, as they are called to follow Jesus, as they do follow Him as His students and after His death and resurrection, as they continue their work, now no longer students but masters.
If you've accepted Christ, when did it happen, and do you think you really understood what it meant to "give your life over" to God? Do you think there is more to your relationship with God than your salvation? How has discipleship played a role in your Christian life?