Why do we always have to get something?
I’m re-reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan for something called Spiritual Happening Week for our high school students. It is already a challenging book, and at Christmas time especially it stirs my soul. I do not like the words Francis Chan writes, nor the words of Jesus, but they have to be confronted.
Why do we always have to get something? I do not understand. Every Christmas, every birthday, I go around this with my family. I truly mean it when I say that I do not need nor want anything. I feel a lot of times that I have too much as it is and would rather people give their money to a more worthy cause. No one ever listens to me and I’m always told that I have to get something. It is a never-ending frustration for me. Francis Chan makes me sick to my stomach when he places the world of our culture against the words of Jesus. I think however you slice it we are missing the boat in our world today.
But even in Scripture, in a book as challenging and radical as Crazy Love, are we still missing it. Jesus says in Luke 18 to the rich young ruler, “Sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Francis Chan writes this in a chapter about serving leftovers to God after a chapter on being lukewarm that he believes keeps us out of heaven. Why do we always have to get something?
Maybe Jesus had to put it this way because he knew that we are selfish people and that there has to be something in it for us. What if that verse omitted “you will have treasure in heaven” and simply said “Sell everything you have and give to the poor. The come follow me.” What if there was nothing in it for us? As my professor Dr. Hooks once asked us, “If there were no heaven would you still be a Christian?”
If our giving, even if done in secret, is done with a purpose other than we have an insatiable love for Jesus and others it inevitably can cause us to sin in the end. I do things for people, and then find myself upset if they do not receive it the way I believe that they should. I grow frustrated if I give my time, money, energy, and wisdom to people and then feel that I do not receive some sort of return or that it does not make others do the same. I do it to store up treasure in heaven, rather than just because I love Jesus and people. Even if I were to sell all that I owned and give it away I feel most of the time it would be out of guilt and it would be to store up treasure in heaven…not because I love Jesus. This is a problem. Why do we always have to get something?
We miss the point because we need to feel good about ourselves. This I do not believe it is wrong because it is in our nature as human beings. But Jesus so often calls us to transcend the culture and even what is not necessarily wrong for what is more right. This is where we have to acknowledge that we are spiritually poor. We cannot achieve this on our own. It is only through the grace of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit can we become a people who do not need anything in return, even the promise of heaven and the treasures there. Jesus gave his all to achieve a purpose regardless of what the cost was to him and with no promise it would ever be accepted. We cannot afford to do any less.