“If we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”
– C. S. Lewis
The Gospel is good news. The good news is that we can have abundant life here on Earth in fellowship with God through salvation by the blood of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, and also have eternal life with Him after death. The good news is that even though we are sinners, Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross and we can be forgiven because we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
But sometimes we get infatuated, distracted or inebriated with the world. God gives us blessings, pleasures and joys here while in the world, but Scripture sternly warns us,
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
– 1 John 2.15-17
Jesus Himself said:
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
– Luke 14.26-33
What does Jesus mean that we have to hate our mother and father? Or ourselves? He means that if your love for your parents, your spouse or yourself is stronger than your love for Him, then you are not truly a Christian. He means that if you are not willing to sacrifice your comfort, your relationships or your identity for the sake of Him, you are not truly a Christian. He means that we must choose Him.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote one of my favorite books called “The Cost of Discipleship”. In this book he examines what it means to take up your cross, to surrender everything, to not love the world, and to be fully satisfied in the Lord. Augustine made a profound statement that is commonly quoted:
“He loves Thee too little, who loves anything together with Thee, which he loves not for Thy sake.”
– Augustine of Hippo
He is the all satisfying creator who loves us and meets all of our physical, spiritual and emotional needs. He may not meet them how we think they should be met, but He meets them how He knows we will best be drawn to Him. Through His Word He has granted to us “everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1.3). We cannot hold on to the things of the world. We must die to ourselves, die to our flesh and live for Christ. And only in that will we be satisfied!