“I want two things that are mutually opposed – I want to live a nice little life, and I want to play an important role in God’s kingdom.” – John Eldredge
This lent season I’ve had two quotes stuck in my head, and this is the first. It’s so honest and so… me.
I want to love and serve God with all my heart, soul, and strength AND I want everything to go my way, nothing to change for the worse, and everyone to love me.
I’d be happy to write God in as a supporting role in my story, but that’s not his offer. No, to be a disciple is to give up being a master. Those who make a difference in God’s story are those who know – deeply know – that it’s his story. Those who advance God’s kingdom are those who’ve surrendered their own.
But it’s always partial, isn’t it? We raise the white flag one moment and take it back down the next. We thank God for his counsel one instant only to offer a “Yeah, but…” the next. We confess Jesus as Lord one minute before we take him aside and give him that strong rebuke he needs. (Surely you don’t think Peter’s the only one to try that!)
So that’s the first quote, an admission about how conflicted we all are.
“For even the son of man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” - Jesus, Mark 10:45.
And this is the second. It’s the final word in a whole section where Jesus’ determination to face death willingly has been messing with his disciples’ determination to be – in contemporary lingo – famous.
They can’t quite shake the images of “Messiah” that they had in their heads before Jesus. The messiah was supposed to come and conquer and reign. To be a close follower of that messiah would be a sweet gig indeed. It would mean authority and notoriety. It would mean more blessing than sacrifice. It would mean a nice little life.
They just can’t get Jesus to understand.
Mark 10:45 is the end of it. Essentially, “No more of this thinking. You’re following me and that’s not where I’m heading.” In fact, just a handful of verses later Jesus is heading into Jerusalem to face his death. He’s determined, whether his disciples get it or not.
“I didn’t come to be served but to serve, to give my life.”
“I’m not here for the good life.”
“I’m not here for myself. Not at all.”
Who says that? Who is that unequivocal about their life’s path? That complete in their devotion? That selfless in their surrender?
You and I, we want two things mutually opposed. Jesus, he only wanted one. May his name be lifted up forevermore.