Thursday, March 10, 2011

Well Goodie for You, Abraham

Matthew 19 tells us that inheriting eternal life hinges on one's willingness to leave behind siblings, parents, and children to follow Christ's radical call. No, you may argue, inheriting eternal life hinges on asking God to forgive us for our sin, and asking Jesus to come into our hearts and be our God. But I submit this for consideration:

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are last will be first, and many who are first will be last." (Matthew 19: 29-30)

For another example of "eternal life means more than saying the right prayer," see Matthew 25:31-46.

But back to Matthew 19. Obviously I'm not so much concerned about receiving a hundredfold in exchange for obedience to Christ. Nor am I concerned that disobedience will result in an eternity in hell. I'm concerned that, when Jesus tells us that something will result in eternal life, it must be pretty serious. And so it's pretty serious that Jesus tells us that we must be willing to leave home, family, and livelihood for his sake.

And as I've thought about what I wouldn't be willing to give up in my life for the sake of obeying Christ's call to a complete reversal of values, I have come up with one thing. But it's a biggie: The health and safety of my family.

Jay's continued health is dependent on being near specialists and hospitals and, one day, crack transplant teams. And my kids? Forget about it. If I had been Abraham, I would have laughed right in the face of Almighty when I was commanded to sacrifice my child. I would have said, "Look, Friend, this has been a real trip, but this is where you and I part ways. I'm out."

So if those things are non-negotiable for me, am I ready to be radical? Am I really ready to submit to countercultural, reversal-of-values obedience? I don't know.

And what does health and safety entail? If I find out along this journey that God is calling me to give up my life savings, the treasure that I have "stored up on earth," does that compromise the health and safety of my children? What about college funds? (Let's face it, my dad's the only one who's been filling up those coffers) But does that compromise their health and safety? Do I cheat them somehow?

Questions I am pondering.


Jennifer said...

The challenges and the questions you raise are quite thought-provoking and heart wrenching. Look forward to reading more, thanks for spurring me on to take plunge of self-examination and re-evaluating what Jesus is asking me to do.

Sarah said...

I didn't really understand, until I had my baby, quite how strong the urge to protect your children is. I've always believed in middle-class parents sending their children to local state schools, even if they aren't great, because if you take the 'good' kids out of the school it's going to have a polarising effect on the education available in the school. I'm in the UK, by the way... Suddenly I look at some of the schools we have and I'm not sure I want my daughter to go there. I'm not sure I can put my principles before her happiness and her chances in life. And I can't work out whether this is a good thing, or a bad thing. Or maybe just a thing.

Mary Beth said...

Sarah, I totally understand. Jay and I both went to public schools, and my grandmothers and my mother were all public school teachers. But when we looked at our options, we decided that we didn't want that for our children. I totally agree with what you said about principles and happiness...when it's your own kid you just refuse to compromise. For me, right now, it's just a thing.