Jesus says some hard things to those who will listen, and among those hard sayings are most certainly his words in Matthew 5;
“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
– Matthew 5:29-30
Even the most casual reader gets the fact that Jesus isn’t talking literally. He’s using hyperbole. The disciples sin plenty and certainly seem to have all their appendages and ocular nerves in place. However, I’d never heard of anyone actually owning up to the fierceness that Jesus is illustrating here about taking serious action to remove sin from our lives. That is, until a couple weeks ago.
I’ve been discipling Andrew for over three years now, getting to see God work massive transformation in his life. He’s made big steps of faith and hard decisions, each one launching him forward growth. This one may be the one that catapults him into the radical Christ-following that he’s longed for.
About two weeks ago Andrew and I were doing our usual morning time in God’s word, reading 1 Timothy and discussing what we found there, then ending our time with a space for asking God what he wanted us to do in light of the truth revealed in His word and listening for his answer.
Andrew laughed when I asked him if he felt like God had anything for him to do and said “I don’t know, I think it was just me thinking crazy things.” He went on to say that he felt like he was being prompted to get rid of his video games, laptop, television, and smartphone in order to cut distractions and temptations to sin out of his life.
I’ve written before about the massive damage that videogames can do to young men (and women) by keeping them in a passive state and dulling their passion for the life that God has placed them in. (here and here) For Andrew that’s exactly what they had been doing, and he knew it.
It’s one thing to know that and to know that God’s calling you to get rid of something that’s precious to you. It’s another thing to actually do the terrible work of cutting off and plucking out. Several days after Andrew shared with me what he felt like God was prompting him to do he joined the Threshingfloor Communities leaders and I at Verge Ministry’s annual retrea, Leader Advance. Through the weekend God worked and Andrew made the resolve of faith to do what he felcut t called to do.
This is where I am so proud of Andrew and impressed with his act of faith. I truly believe that he will soon surpass me in many ways. We arrived home and Monday morning Andrew began the work. He sold his television within 48 hours. Gave away his laptop. Posted his PS4 and games on Craigslist, selling most of it within a week. He has done what so many speak of from afar. He has done what Jesus commanded, removing from his life an instrument of temptation, believing indeed that it is “better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
My friends, are we that kind of people? Are we willing to take Jesus at his word – even his incredibly hard words – and obey? Andrew’s actions have been a challenge and inspiration to me these past few weeks. His work has just begun, but it has begun very well.
Jesus promises that for those who hear and obey his word now every pain and expense in this stores up greater eternal reward. For Andrew, every game sold and every temptation resisted is preparing for him an eternal weight of glory that surpasses any earthly pleasure. I want in on that! Let’s pray for Andrew and follow his lead. Let’s listen to God. Let’s obey God, even if what he’s saying seems crazy. Will you join me?