Give It Up
Psalm 123; Jeremiah 7:27–34; Matthew 8:18–22
There was this guy who loved science. He loved nature. He pursued the academics to take care of the wilds. Except he was stubborn. You see, what he loved wasn’t the science, but Creation. In fact, he wasn’t good at it at all. He stuck with that choice for 4 years. Sadly, no one gave him wise advice (not that he would have listened) to give it up. It wasn’t meant for him. 4 years of misery and disappointment vanished into smoke. You might know such a stubborn person.
The basic gist of God’s words to Jeremiah: give it up. No matter what you do, they won’t listen. No matter what acts of penance and remorse they act out…they are acting and their hearts aren’t in it. The people of Judah seemed to revel in their disobedience to God. Blaspheming the Temple of God with idols of false gods. Killing their sons and daughters and giving them to fires.
Give it up, Jeremiah. They won’t see the errors of theirs ways until the places of these sacrifices are filled with corpses of war, famine, and pestilence, and these so-called sacred places of sacrifice are themselves blasphemed. Oh, and maybe not even then. Give it up.
We are in a time and place where even conversations with friends and acquaintances are “given up” as there can be no discussion or resolution. The hearts are hard and the ears are closed. Sometimes all we can do is give it up. That is until it comes to us.
Jesus’ words seem somewhat harsh to our ears. Yet, they hold a profound truth that much of Western Christianity, especially the US iteration, is in the process of rediscovering. Give it up.
The legal expert would have had a decent home and security. Jesus told him, basically, give it up. The disciple (since unnamed, probably not one of the 12) says, let me bury my father. In other words, let me wait to follow you until my father wouldn’t disown me or be ashamed of me. Jesus responded, who is your father in comparison to me? Give it up.
We have become far too comfortable. Whether it is being the majority confessed (rather than followed) religion, or the “majority” skin color (if you are), or the nice buildings, or our ties to political power, or our ties to monied power, or the practices we hold dear, or the ability to speak openly about Jesus, we’ve been comfortable.
Jesus’ point to these two was that comfort isn’t the call…Jesus is the call.
In certain Christian traditions that hold only men may be pastors/priests, they are struggling to find men to fill the roles. Often the response is that they should accept women. Those who respond that way will often point to those denominations (like the Church of the Nazarene) that do ordain women. Yet, the real question, the real deficit, is that people don’t want to give it up. They don’t want to give up their lives.
None of us do, really. Even those denominations that do ordain women still have a problem, and that is the people themselves who don’t want to give it up for Jesus. It is not a matter of men or women. It is not a matter of politics, money, race, or other things. It is that people don’t want to give it up for Jesus.
Ian is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene, and is currently Co-Lead Pastor at Enumclaw Nazarene Church in Enumclaw, WA, USA.
He has previously served as Online Campus Pastor at Generations Community Church in Marysville, WA, USA; Associate Pastor at Snohomish Church of the Nazarene; College and Young Adult Pastor at Moscow Church of the Nazarene in Moscow, ID, USA.
Ian also writes at Starlyth.info (personal) and Nazarene.Digital (On Digital Transformation of the Church)