I remember it clearly: I told God I hated Him. I was in my second year at a discipleship/ministry training school. Leading up to this, the Spirit was showing me Christ’s self-giving nature in a depth I had never known. (These words— “Christ’s self-giving nature”—seem like stupid, clumsy props when it comes to conveying their spiritual reality. It’s like re-enacting the light-sabre battle between Darth Maul and Qui-gon Jinn using mouth-sounds and Nerf swords). Bleeding out on the cross is only a fraction of what Jesus gave. The way He has suffered with our selfish, contrary race since the beginning of time can’t be measure in pints. Neither can His patience, His grace, His unending condescension. Where sin increases, grace increases even more (Rom. 5:20). Nothing—and I mean NOTHING—can compare to the glory and beauty of Christ, who didn’t even keep His own body or blood for Himself.
So what is there to hate on in all that? Well, there came a point in all that glory and beauty when I realized that Jesus wanted to continue His self-sacrifice using MY body. Jesus’s crucifixion was not just something I could hang on my wall; it was not just something He did for me. Jesus wanted to bring His cross right down into my daily life, into the most mundane choices. He was going to give, and give, and give, as He always had—through MY life. So I was mad. My flesh reared back like a cornered snake. I hated Him and told Him so.
The gospel should provoke SOME kind of reaction from us. It doesn’t have to be a reaction like mine. (In fact, for most, I hope it isn’t). But the gospel should provoke us in SOME way. There are days when I worry we are dangerously comfortable with Jesus. He’s a part of the family, not the guy telling me to hate my family if I want to follow Him (Luke 14:26).
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know there’s also resurrection and abundant life in Jesus (John 10:10). I know if we lose for His sake we also find (Matt. 16:25). But I wonder: Are we too quick to balance Jesus out? Do we balance Him out because of our concern with doctrinal purity? Or is this another way we make Him less threatening to our self-preferring lifestyle? I know, I know. Questions like these are as welcome as gadflies. But they get your attention.