So ends an old hymn of dedication to Christ which begins with the words “Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee” and ends with “Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.” We sing this sometimes. But what does it mean in practice?
The answer lies in the teaching of Jesus. Another (children’s) hymn calls Jesus “gentle” and “mild.” But those words may not come to mind when we see what he asked of his disciples – and therefore of us. We are his current disciples on earth. He hasn’t changed his mind or his standards.
Here is a brief summary of some (not all) of what Jesus asks of us (if you want confirmation of my summary look up the Bible references at the end of this article):
To love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. (Matt 22:37-40)
To put him before anyone else (actually, if we do that we shall love our family and friends even better than we do now).
(Matt 8:22; 10:21, 34-37; Luke 9:61; 14:25)
To be willing to accept hardship, suffering and even opposition and hatred because of our faith in him. (Matt 10:22, 38-39; 16:24-25; John 15:20).
To put following him before money, comfort, selfish ambitions and material things(which includes sacrificial giving). (Matt 5:40-42; 6:4)
To love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves. (Matt 22:37-40; John 15:12-13; 17:13-14; Matt 25:35-36; Luke 14:13; Mark 2:16; Luke 7:39).
To be reconciled to anyone we offend, to be forgiving, not being judgmental or retaliating. Even to love our enemies(we may not FEEL love but we can show love in practice and by treating people properly). (Matt 5:22, 24, 39, 44; 7:1-5, 18:15, 21-22; Luke 17:3).
Little wonder Jesus lost many of his would-be followers (John 6:60-69). But through those who remained with him, he turned the world upside down.
How do you score on that list? God is looking for people who will live like that. The church depends on people who live like that. They are a minority.
C T Studd (the outstanding cricketer who became a missionary in China, India and Africa) said: “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
If we really believe that Jesus is God and did die for us on the cross then we shall live in accordance with what Jesus asks of us above.
If we don’t live in that way, people might be forgiven for thinking we don’t really believe it.
The church should always welcome those who are enquiring about Christianity, those in need, those with doubts, those who feel failures and those who are not yet able to be fully committed. Sacrificial commitment to Christ is a voluntary thing. But it is what the church should stand for and aim at.
We can choose not to go that way, but if we do go that way (albeit imperfectly), when we meet Jesus and he says “Well done, good and faithful servant” it will all seem very worthwhile.
How about it?
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction