Choosing Radical Devotion to Christ in a World of Mediocrity
by LESLIE LUDY
He who hath given
himself entirely unto God, will never
think he doth too much for Him.
The wealthy young man stood in front of Jesus, struggling with his emotions. He had just been presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. The Messiah had looked at him with loving eyes and had invited him to become His follower. But the invitation came with a price — too great a price. He must let go of all that he had. He must give up everything. And he just couldn’t do it. Despite the great sense of sadness and regret that overtook him as he slowly walked away, he didn’t turn around.*
Can you relate to that kind of inner battle? Maybe you’ve felt a momentary desire to let Jesus take complete control of your life … but then you hesitate. The cost seems too great, the calling too extreme. Nearly all of us have been there at one time or another in our Christian journey. Many of us are in the midst of that struggle even now. As the world around us becomes more hostile towards true Christianity, we find ourselves waffling between comfortable mediocrity and radical devotion to Jesus.
In the midst of such intense pressure to conform to social correctness, it is imperative that each of us grapple with the question: How far are we willing to go in our devotion to Jesus Christ? Is there such a thing as being too extreme in our passion for Him?
There is a powerful story from Scripture that demonstrates a kind of radical devotion that is rarely seen in today’s world. It took place when King David was in exile, living in a cave to escape Saul’s persecution, and in danger from the Philistines who had taken control of much of Israel. In these dire circumstances, David expressed his longing for a sip of water from a certain well in Bethlehem. (See 1 Chronicles 11:17.)
It would have been a death mission for David to send any of his loyal men to the well, which was surrounded by enemy soldiers. His statement had merely been wishful thinking. But David’s men lived for only one purpose — to serve and honor God’s anointed king. Upon hearing his desire for water from that well, three of his men sprang into action. If their king wanted a drink from the well, then they were determined to get it for him at any cost.
So the three broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless David would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord. And he said, “Far be it from me, O my God, that I should do this! Shall I drink the blood of these men who have put their lives in jeopardy? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” (1 Chron. 11:18–19)
Their awe-inspiring example begs the question: Do we possess that kind of to-the-death loyalty to our true King, Jesus Christ? Do we love Him so much that we will become numbered among the hunted and despised along with Him? Are we willing to charge straight into the most deadly peril, at risk of our own lives, simply to honor His slightest request?
As modern believers we are typically quite happy to sing songs about Christ, write about Him, and talk about Him to other Christians, but often when the true test of loyalty comes, we hesitate. We are very prone to choosing personal comfort over radical abandon to Him. We might take a few small risks for our King, but if He asked for a drink from a well that was surrounded by enemy warriors, we’d reason, If I went that far in my devotion to Him, I’d be putting myself at risk. I’d be making myself vulnerable to discomfort and pain. I might even get killed. I can’t give up everything for Him; it’s just not reasonable!
But Jesus Christ gave up everything for us. And He is asking if we will give Him everything in return.
If we want to have unhindered fellowship with Jesus, we must be willing to come away from anything and everything standing in the way of wholehearted consecration to Him. In the case of the rich young ruler, it was his great wealth that stood in the way. In our case, it may be our desire to fit in and be applauded by this world. It may be our personal dreams and ambitions. It may be unhealthy relationships that we are unwilling to step away from. It may be our preoccupation with cultural distractions and entertainment.
Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (emphasis added). When our desire for Christ becomes so great that we begin to seek Him as if we are searching for priceless treasure (see Psalm 119:72), when we are willing to give up all the treasures of this world in order to gain Him (see Matthew 13:46 and Philippians 3:8) — that is when He will draw nearer to us than we ever imagined possible.
Charles Spurgeon expressed it beautifully,
“Jesus says, ‘Rise up, My love, My fair one and come away.’ He asks you to come out from the world and be separate and touch not the unclean thing. Come altogether away from selfishness — from anything which would divide your chaste and pure love to Christ — your soul’s Husband. Come away from your old habits. Leave all these things. Come away to private communion. Come away, shut the doors of your chamber and talk with your Lord Jesus and have close and intimate dealing with Him … Come altogether away from the world, by making your dedication to Christ perfect, complete, unreserved, sincere, spotless.”
Are you ready to truly follow the One True King, no matter what it costs? Jesus stands ready to take your hand and lead you away from the emptiness of this world into the glorious realities of His Kingdom. The adventure of a lifetime awaits us when we answer His invitation with a wholehearted yes. The road will not be easy. But it is infinitely more fulfilling than the mediocrity that surrounds us.
The rich young ruler thought that when he walked away from Jesus, he was walking toward true happiness — a life of comfort, ease, popularity, and wealth. But in reality, he was only headed toward a hollow cavern; a life that led to nothing but regret. May we not make the same mistake!
Jesus is looking at us with eyes of love, inviting us to follow Him. We must give up everything in order to do so. But we will gain everything that really matters when our answer is a wholehearted yes.