“All of Me, Why Not Take All of Me”
Harsh words from Jesus.
To the first person Jesus says, “If you follow me don’t expect an easy life. You’ll always be on the go. Little time to rest, no settled home, never sure where your next meal is coming from, where you’ll spend the night, and definitely no medical insurance.
To the second person Jesus says, “Your commitment to me comes before any other commitment you can imagine—commitments to family, to whatever career you were pursuing, to friends. Nothing matters except your service to me. And that service begins now.”
To the third person Jesus says, “If you intend to follow me you can’t look at what you’ve left behind. You can’t look back at your former life. You can’t think about your family, or the friends you might have been close to, or any circumstances of your past. Don’t look back; start serving me now. If you turn around you won’t plow a straight furrow of service.”
The disciples we read about did just that. They gave up their homes, their settled lifestyles—everything they had ever known for a life on the move. First they traveled around Galilee. Then they spent time in Jerusalem. Finally they were dispersed to the ends of their world, many to live and die in strange places, unaccompanied by family.
We know Peter was married because Jesus healed his mother-in-law of a fever. We know James and John had a father who would have become dependent on them in his old age, and a mother who traveled, at least sometimes, with Jesus. We don’t know much about the family situations of the rest of the twelve. What we do know is that when Jesus called, they went with him immediately, leaving behind all they had known, all other commitments.
We know that, for the most part, once these disciples committed their lives to Jesus they never looked back. Following the crucifixion they put their service on pause while they figured out what they should do next. Without a leader they did not know where they were supposed to go. Once they were given the Holy Spirit, they had direction. From that moment they couldn’t be stopped. We use the phrase human dynamo rather loosely, but the world has never seen people more dynamic than they became. Yes, John tells us that during this pause, Peter and a couple of others went fishing. That didn’t last long. One foray out on the Galilee and Jesus called them back to work.
All of this is good to remember when God asks us to give up some little thing so we can better serve. Too often we give our service grudgingly, half-heartedly. And we’re awfully good at complaining. “I wish I could go with you this weekend, but I have this church meeting I just have to attend Saturday afternoon.”
“No one, putting his hand to the plow, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Where does that leave us? How many times do we stay comfortably at home when Jesus says, “Go?” How many times do we place other, lesser commitments before our commitment to the one who says, “Follow me?” How many times do we say, “Here I am, Lord,” but look wistfully at the ordered, leisurely life we’ve left behind?
Some of you may be old enough to remember the song whose first line provides the title of this piece. The next line is “Can’t you see I’m no good without you?” Without Jesus our lives are greatly diminished. We may be comfortable, but we won’t be fulfilled.
Jesus wants to hear us say, “Take all of me.”