What causes us to abandon all for Christ

Why is it that the gospel message seems to gave gone on deaf ears in our culture? Could it be that it’s not compelling enough to move people from their distractions? I personally think so. I’ve been reading a book that I highly recommend by Frank Viola titled, Insurgence: Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom. He addresses this very thing.

As Viola points out, we have not really heard the gospel that was preached in the first century: a radical message that was heralded throughout the Roman Empire in the face of severe persecution that turned their world upside-down, eventually transforming the culture itself from the inside out. I think the following quote from his book sums this up very well:

“What captured the twelve disciples to forsake everything and follow Jesus? Simple. They saw His glory and were captured by it.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NIV)

“…It is the sight of His glory that causes you and me to abandon all else. It is the experience of His grace that causes us to forsake everything for the Lord. Just as God the Father rules the kingdom of heaven in the heavenly realm by His glory, Jesus Christ rules the kingdom of God on earth by His glory.” (Insurgence, p.46-47, emphasis added)

Ironically, the current problem isn’t that we’ve watered down the message too much, but that we were already given a watered-down message to begin with. It’s certainly not a message that compels people to abandon everything for Christ and change the world.

And it’s not because we need to rub people’s sin in their faces with threats of hell (which, by the way, Jesus’ disciples never preached). That method was effective in the guilt-ridden post Medieval world of the Reformers, but it certainly doesn’t work now. And we need to question whether it’s even a biblical way to preach the good news in the first place.

We’ve reduced the gospel to arguments, altar calls, reciting sinner’s prayers, going to church, and waiting for heaven when we die. While this may be a good start, and being part of a local church is important to our continued growth, none of these things will captivate people’s hearts in the long run.

No, I agree with Viola. We are changed by the glory of Jesus Christ. This is what changed Paul on the road to Damascus, what Isaiah encountered when He saw God’s glory, what the adulterous woman experienced when she met Jesus when faced with her accusers, and what happened to the Samaritan woman at the well that made her evangelize a whole city.

When I think about it, this is what changed me.

Glory is the manifest goodness of God. And when glory invades our world we understand what Paul meant by the following:

13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Cor.5:13-15 NIV)

What Paul is saying is that encountering the glory of Christ makes us seem like we’re “out of our minds” to those who only know boring and dry religion. It’s like being madly in love; you can’t think of anything else but being with that person. You would do anything for them, live or die for them, No one has to give you rules to obey when your heart is so stricken.

This is how the Kingdom of God works. The King of Glory compels by His love.

This is why legalism and being religious is a very different thing altogether, nothing more than powerless counterfeit constructs invented by zealous adherents who keep their distance from God while trying to assuage their guilty conscience with ritual obedience.

Beloved, I’m talking about a radiant beauty and overwhelming goodness that makes you blush and go weak in the knees. When you catch but a small glimpse of it, you can only bow your heart in holy awestruck reverence. Every part of you resonates with His love in passionate adoration, and you know that nothing else will ever satisfy you again. You’re wonderfully ruined, being changed from glory to glory.

That, my dear reader, is what makes all the difference.

All Hail King Jesus!

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 38 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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14 Responses to What causes us to abandon all for Christ

  1. AfroLatino says:

    Thanks Mel.

    I grew up with a religious mindset and was filled with fear for most of my Christian walk. Even unbelievers could see through me that I evangelised through obligation rather than love.

    In our present times, we tend to imitate unbelievers instead of the other way around. For some reason, we have lost our flavour as the salt of the earth.

    However, there is hope. I have encountered a new revelation of his love and in Him I live and have my being.

    God bless

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen, I agree with you. There is hope. I spent many years living a form of Christianity that could not sustain a vibrant faith that’s alive and free. I have said this for a few years now, but there’s a new awakening happening in the midst of the waning of fear-based evangelicalism. Many are encountering a new revelation of His unfathomable love. And there’s nothing more contagious than someone full of His passion and love. We start looking like Jesus!
      Blessings to you.

  2. Bahaha! Chuckling here Mel, but this post is very prophetic. I just finished writing a piece on insurrection. Then I went and read Pastor Wilson’s post (who I frequently disagree with) on, you guessed it, “insurrection.” Then I come over here and sure enough, you are speaking of insurgence.

    “Could it be that it’s not compelling enough to move people from their distractions?”

    Your whole post is just beautiful, but to that question I give a resounding yes. A huge amen! Now what do we mean when we say “compelling?” I’ve think you’ve brought up some very important things.

    Love how you said, “What Paul is saying is that encountering the glory of Christ makes us seem like we’re “out of our minds” to those who only know boring and dry religion. It’s like being madly in love; you can’t think of anything else but being with that person.”

    Yes! I pray that affliction just spreads across the whole church. We need to desire Him, we need to be hungry, we need to fall madly in love. I cannot tell you what it does to my soul to trudge into church as if we are all going to the gallows, to fill our out approved prayer request form to be sent to the prayer committee, to engage in church for precisely 55 minutes, and to go home. We are actually called to be an insurgent of the best kind, to rock ourselves and others out of that kind of complacency.

    • Mel Wild says:

      “I pray that affliction just spreads across the whole church. We need to desire Him, we need to be hungry, we need to fall madly in love. ”

      Yes, amen! May it be so. A youth minister friend of mine was asked what is the most important thing he thought was in having a successful youth ministry in our current culture. He said without hesitation, have them fall in love with Jesus. That’s the universal answer for all of us!

  3. hawk2017 says:

    Amen and Ty.:)

  4. jim- says:

    “Why is it that the gospel message seems to gave gone on deaf ears in our culture?” Belief is born of need. Religion has outlived its usefulness where very few need for anything that can’t be provided by other means. Even the despondent have many resources to choose from here in the US—without the baggage that comes with belief in god.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Sure, religion may have outlived it’s usefulness but that’s exactly my point. What I’m talking about is something that has nothing to do with providing a fix as you seem to think is the point.

      And if there’s any baggage, we’re the ones bringing it with us.

  5. Citizen Tom says:

    Excellent post! I would just add a little and just for a point of clarification. There isn’t a formula that allows us to start a revival. We can only participate in one.

    How do we participate? We love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then when unbelievers ask, we can give the reason for the hope that is in us.

    How do we learn to love God? We read His Bible and follow His teachings. We walk with Him. Then we can tell others why we love the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    Is this easy? No. That is why Jesus gave us the church. Church is the place we go to help each other learn to walk with God.Church is where we can see the image of God revealed in other Christians. Church is where pastors lead the sheep in worship at the foot of the cross. Church is where sheep lead other sheep to salvation at the cross.

    We must stop seeing a revival as something we bring to others. A revival is God at work in us, not someone else.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Good points, Tom. We should stop seeing revival as what should happen to everyone else. It should start in our own hearts. What we give to others should come from the overflow in us.

      As far as glory goes, the supernatural manifestations of God’s goodness, like Paul’s or Isaiah’s, are unpredictable. You can’t anticipate or create one. But we can and do have those with Jesus all the time, like the woman at the well. And we can think about how God has been gracious and merciful to us, or how Jesus was so good to people in the Gospels. And by thinking about His goodness, it moves our heart to love Him more. And the more we love Him the more we want to abandon all for Him! 🙂

  6. You wrote…This is why legalism and being religious is a very different thing altogether, nothing more than powerless counterfeit constructs invented by zealous adherents who keep their distance from God while trying to assuage their guilty conscience with ritual obedience.

    You wrote perfectly the thought that I have been thinking for the past several years. The best way that I know to present it is, “The religious desire adherence to their god defined by legalism and rituals while I desire a loving relationship with my Heavenly Father.”

    • Mel Wild says:

      That’s exactly it, Patrick. Religion is transactional, trying to appease God to get His favor. But following Christ is relational, living in God’s favor, cooperating with His life in us, because He’s the one who works mightily in us!

  7. Amen! the only way to reach people is through love and making it known that God IS that love. People may long for God but they won’t truly give their lives up for Him until they encounter His love for themselves. His love transforms our hearts and minds. God bless!

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