Israel – “wrestles with God.” Interesting. We walk away with a limp, a fuller understanding and reminder of our brokenness. But we also walk away with a new name, and better yet, an inheritance. The New Israel needs to do more wrestling.
Why the process of abandoning is so important (part 3)
What if all the things that other people have been saying about you all your life have little to do with who you really are? What if the cultural aspects of your faith that you’ve never questioned were either wrong or really unimportant? What if the things that you accomplished, the winning teams that you were a part of, the opinions your peers have about you, actually were in the way of you understanding who God intended you to be?
Much as we parents would like to help our children wrestle through these questions, ultimately the wrestling process is an individual one. Because it’s so risky and we have so little control, 99% of all parents try to shut the process down. Better to stick with what you know than to walk down this narrow road. Yet this is the narrow road that Jesus spoke about. We have to abandon our old identity and renounce our old citizenship if we are to discover our true self. This is why Jesus instructs us that we “hate our father and mother” and is specific as to say, “Anyone who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14)
Jesus isn’t saying that we should renounce the fifth commandment, and he is not an ascetic; he just understands how hard the change process is. As long as the old ego props and culturally defined religion is in place, our personal foundation is flawed. To become a disciple of Jesus, you have to wipe the slate clean and begin building on the bedrock of what he says about you as opposed to what others say or your own syncretistic thoughts.
That’s why Jesus called all his disciples to leave their homes and the things that were familiar and comfortable. He needed to destabilize them in order to begin to change them.
Those of us who, with the rich, young ruler, want to tend to the family business before following Jesus will find him shaking his head. It can’t be done. Only by following the path of abandon can we be initiated as Jesus-followers.
If you’re feeling tweaked on this issue, I’ll give you some questions tomorrow that will help you engage in the abandonment process.
The Bible often uses a military metaphor. This is another time to use such a metaphor. The military understand this idea of breaking and rewriting who you are, especially the Marines. That’s much of what boot camp/basic training/etc. are all about. Now, I’m not sure how we could send new believers into a spiritual boot camp, but you’re quite correct that we need an idea of something to help us learn who we are in Christ instead of what our culture and family label us.
I am totally confused by hating your mother and father,brother and sisters and even your own self. I guess I can’t take it literally.
Thank you – I needed to read this. Praise the Lord.