“The heart is a “love pump” or a desire factory. It never stops producing or pumping out desire. But it cannot just land. You cannot just desire. You must desire something. What distinguishes us is not whether we love, but what we love.” – James Smith in ‘Desiring the Kingdom’
For every human being, life must be lived from a fountain of our choosing. Just as we must choose the kind of food to put into our bodies for a physical daily refueling, we must choose daily the kind of fountain we live our lives from. We must choose daily from where will we draw meaning, and for what reality are we living for.
If we do not answer this question, then the default answer and the default fountain we drink from will be that of our surroundings – the western world, until we get consumed by its selfishness, superficiality and meaninglessness. Or worse yet, we will live for ourselves, continually inflating our empty egos, until we are unapproachable and unlikeable, blind and narrow-minded, critical and miserable. There is no neutral ground for the human being.
And so from this perspective the seemingly far-flung statements of Jesus to “lose your life” and to “sell everything and give to the poor” are actually simple calls to freedom, to life, and to meaning.
Radical Christianity is actually a simple issue of life and death. Critically, we fail to see this because we fail to see the radical depravity of our hearts and of the world in which we live, so accustomed are we to our own cesspool. Am I being too dramatic? Not according David Foster Wallace, an atheist writer who perhaps understood human nature better than many of us who call ourselves Christians:
“In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such this as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship, And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual type thing to worship – be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess of the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles – is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.” -David Foster Wallace
And If this all sounds rather daunting, then let’s remember that call for everything is given by the one who has given his all to us. He is the most generous and gracious man alive, and he only asks for one step at a time. So go ahead, bargain with God. Talk with him about it, don’t run in fear because you feel you can’t live up to a standard. We misunderstand anyway because it was never about the standard, it’s about relationship – and that’s all that matters. But be warned, it’s a relationship in which you may be stripped of everything, lovingly. And in that place of ‘poverty’, where every fickle and empty thing you once had placed your hope in has been taken away, you will stand empty-handed before the throne, naked.
In that place, he gives you himself.
And all of a sudden, nothing matters anymore. Not the doubts in your mind, or the darkness of your heart, not the thoughts of people around you, not the size of your bank account, not the roof over your head, not your job or your vocation, not your health or your situation. Because you are his, and he is yours.
And for the first time perhaps, you feel truly alive. And for the first time perhaps, you are free.
Another ‘radical’ post: Redefining ‘Entertainment’