In a world where all loves are competing, he says that love for God is exponential. It’s not that we have a certain amount of love that we need to distribute accordingly; rather, in life with God, when we love God, we have more love to give. It’s an ever-expanding resource like a fountain that continually refills itself. When we love God, we have the capacity to love others things more.
Around middle school, I remember considering words similar to those found inMatthew 10:38-39:
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:38-39 ESV).
I was brought up in a quasi-Roman Catholic family where Jesus was someone to fit in our lives when it was convenient. But he certainly didn’t require we orientate our lives around his. He wanted us happy and comfortable to the exclusion of demands.
In the folklore of youth group culture, I remember watching a video of a hockey player. For whatever reason, he decided to follow Jesus. And part of following Jesus for him was giving up the sport he loved. He had divided interests between his loves; would it be sports or Jesus? In his radical commitment, he chose Jesus.
This posed an immediate problem for me. As a budding athlete, nothing could compete with the claim of sports. I was interested in loving God, but what would it cost? Would he ask me to give up soccer as he did with this hockey guy?
I hoped not. In many ways, this fearful reality delayed my decision to follow Jesus. I wanted to add Jesus to my otherwise comfortable life—I didn’t want to forsake my will for his.
Is loss what it means to follow Christ? Does losing your life in such a way mean that I find Christ? Are the loves of this world in competition with love for Christ—even the relationships as close as mother and father, brother and sister? Do my natural loves need forsaking to make room for my Christian ones?
As a young boy, I wanted God on my own terms. As a slightly older man, I can’t say I’ve changed much. I think we all want this—a controllable God who doesn’t ask too much. I wanted my life with a little Jesus sprinkled on top, not a radically different life with different priorities.