Following Jesus should not be something you turn on and off. It should not be something reserved for Sundays or ‘Quiet Times’ or those moments when the right people are watching. Following Jesus means responding to His call regularly to deny yourself, to take up your cross daily and to follow Him. How completely tragic whenever we make it about anything less than that?
GIVE GOD ALL THE CAKE
Imagine, for a moment, that your life is like a cake cut into different slices, each one representing a different aspect of your life.
There is a ‘My job’ piece of cake, a ‘How I spend my money’ piece; there is even a ‘How I feel about my kids’ piece and a ‘People who have hurt me’ piece.
Many people take one piece of their life cake – the Sunday piece or maybe also the Quiet Time piece – and 100% dedicate that piece to God. But then hold on tightly to the money piece and the hurt piece and have an unstated sense of “Um, that’s okay God, you enjoy your piece, but I’ll take care of these over here.”
We typically fail to give God all of the cake.
JESUS IS MORE THAN JUST A PIECE OF YOUR LIFE
When I share this cake analogy, I often use a bowl of icing to represent Jesus and lavishly cover one whole piece with the glaze and note how weird it looks when we put it back into the rest of the un-iced cake. Alternatively, perhaps more realistically, most people who are sincerely trying to follow God will have all of their cake fully iced except for one or two pieces they are just struggling to offer up to God.
What’s even more significant is that if we fully iced the cake, that wouldn’t quite show us the extent of God’s desire to be fully involved in our lives. I think this analogy works better if Jesus is the flour. Because with any molecule of cake that you stick under a microscope, you will see Jesus is in there.
TO GET IT ALL YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT AWAY
This whole giving-up-your-life-to-Jesus thing sounds like a big sacrifice, and in some ways it is. However, once we have a picture of God as a generous Creator and Loving Parent, then we start to see that handing over all of our life to God is not so much about restriction as it is about the freedom to live the way we were meant to live.
In Matthew 6:33 we read, “But seek first God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” A little bit earlier it reads, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rats destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rats do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (19-20).
A LIFE YOUNG PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW
As those who lead others, are we leading ourselves first? It is often easy to present the cake analogy to teenagers while failing to bring out some of the hidden and possibly more painful pieces of our cake. However, we cannot expect others to respond to this Godly call to surrender all and follow Jesus if we have not taken the bold step of going for it with everything we have. Can we join the Apostle Paul in saying, “Follow me as I follow Christ!” or does it feel a lot safer for us to share stories of Jesus and tell those who follow us to “Go and try to do that!”
Lead from the place of surrender and do it with all of the parts of your life, especially those parts which are a lot harder to hand over. Because from that place you will have much greater success in inviting others along for the journey. Be a Sunday follower of Jesus and follow that up with a Monday to Saturday living out of what you say you believe as well. What piece of your life cake do you need to surrender to Jesus today?