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The Empty Box

Our lives can easily become compartmentalized. We let the words of Jesus shape our actions, but not our hearts – and we end up knowing exactly how to manage every situation carefully. We wrap Jesus up and carefully place him in a box. Then we store Him in the top left hand corner of our closet – and we take it with us when we go to worship services – we hold tight to it when people close to us die – and we grab it when someone tries to prove evolution to us… but if we ever actually opened the box we would find that He has escaped and we’ve been carrying around an empty, powerless box.

Jesus refuses to be boxed up. The call to follow Him has always been “come, give me everything.”

That’s why Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword. I’ve come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

This is one of the most challenging teachings of Jesus. A sword cuts and divides. And if we live according to the teachings of Jesus, it can cause division in our relationships, both with our friends and our families. Difficult or not, this was the nature of the situation for His disciples. It would cost them everything, even their lives. And we would be remiss if we failed to consider that our own decision to follow could cost us too.

It can offend your Buddhist grandmother… you might get cut out of someone’s will or disowned as a part of your family… you could hurt your parents feelings… your mom might roll her eyes… your dad might mock you… your brother might tell you that you’re uneducated to believe in such a stupid thing… and your sister might tell you to calm down with all the radical lifestyle changes. Your friends might stop calling you to hang out… your reputation might be altered… people might make fun of you… BUT when those things happen, Jesus says you have to choose him. He doesn’t want to be one of the things in your life; he wants your entire life. And for some people, hearing that makes Jesus sound like He is being a little over dramatic – maybe even letting some jealousy shine through. But I don't think so.

Before Lindsay and I started dating I had a lot of female friends. I would talk to them on the phone. I would ride in cars alone with them. I would flirt with them. It would be the modern day equivalent of texting them whenever I wanted, writing flirty things on their Facebook wall, and having coffee with them alone. But when Lindsay and I started dating all of those things had to stop. And when we got married it became completely off limits. How would Lindsay feel if I called up one of those girls and talked to them on the phone for a few hours? And what if I let her flirt with me and I flirted back? And then what if we both agreed to meet early the next morning at Starbucks for coffee? If Lindsay finds out about this and gets angry with me for it does that mean she has a jealousy problem? Does that mean she is possessive because she doesn’t want me to have coffee alone with another girl?

No. It means she expects me to love her ONLY.

In the same way, Jesus will not share his affection. If you’re his, then He wants you to be His. All throughout scripture, Jesus paints His people as His bride. And when they turn away to chase after other things (created things, perverted things, whatever things) he calls it an affair. And some of us are having affairs – and Jesus has come to us and said, “unless you make me the only, you can’t have me”. Jesus isn't being unreasonable. He just wants you to love Him ONLY.

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