Are You a Sentimental Christian?
Every year around this time we find ourselves searching our lives for moments to celebrate and promises to make. New Year’s resolutions and promises take on lives of their own and the gyms fill quickly. This is not a new process for you, or anyone, yet every year we seek to be pleasantly surprised with the newfound energy that will hopefully find us on the way.
As I was sitting in a meeting with my pastor, he made a comment in passing that caught me very off guard. He said, “How do you see your future? What if God has something completely different in mind?” He stated this and moved on, but this comment sent my brain spiraling toward a verse I had read in I Kings 19:21.
“So Elisha left him (Elijah) and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.”
While this is a topic we all have heard many times in many different formats, this simple question caught my attention in a way it never had before. I used to believe I was willing to be used and thought I wanted God’s will in my life. And while I know that is true, I began to realize my desire for that wasn’t always strong enough for me to do something difficult for it. Would I be willing to burn my personal desires and exchange them for the calling I felt on my life?
The career I’ve worked toward for years—is that something I would be willing to give up if God asked me for it?
For me, that was a question I had to ask myself. It was one I wrestled with for months. If God asked me for this path, would I be willing to give it up and go a different direction? Could I burn the oxen and plow and say goodbye to all the comfort and familiarity I hold so dear?
I believe we often get ourselves in trouble when we base our values on the things that bring temporary comfort or happiness to us like relationships, success, money, security, appearance, and so on. We begin to find our identity in the things that were never meant to define us. These are the things God will often ask of us.
It can be challenging to find the value in sacrifice—to immediately recognize the blessing that comes from setting yourself aside and choosing to follow. We know Elisha became this great prophet that did amazing things, but when he left all he knew, he left to become another man’s servant. He couldn’t have known what God would do with him, but he knew he was called, a door was opened, and walking through that door would involve sacrifice.
We love to cling to the things we gave up, keeping record of all the moments we sacrificed our “happiness” for the calling. We are sentimental Christians. People who want to live the blessing without ever really having to give up the past. Elisha experienced something beyond life-changing blessing for his sacrifice; he experienced history altering blessing for his leap into servanthood.
I would be out of place to assume his anointing was in part because of his bold statement with the ending of his old life and previous identity, but I can’t help but wonder if we would experience a dynamic shift in our own lives if we began to adjust our own perspectives on sacrifice and what that can truly mean in our own lives.
Let us not be sentimental Christians who cling to what is comfortable, but rather let us burn the past bravely as we pursue new ways to serve our God.
Olivia Dummer is a student in Blue Springs, Missouri where Jason Huckaby is her pastor. She writes and keeps an inspirational blog hoping to encourage others and share what she’s learned about God.