Summary: The world, and all our enjoyments in it, must be looked at with a holy indifference and contempt so that we come to a place where we are no longer at home, but sit loose, reserving our affections for him.
Have you ever found yourself to have placed something or someone in a higher place in your heart than God Almighty? I have. Over the last few weeks, I’ve sensed the Spirit of God working in me to rid me of distractions and obsessions that have kept me from being captivated in wonder of him and fully delighting in him. And in my study of scripture I’ve come to Genesis 12 where Abram is called out of his native land and to the land of promise. God promises Abram that he will be made a great nation with many blessings. Familiar story, right?
But let’s take a deeper look at the first two words God speaks to Abram. He says, "Get out." With these words ("Vade tibi"), God tells Abram to get out as fast as he can for the sake of his life without looking back. Now, in Acts 7, Stephen tells us that God appeared to Abram as the God of glory and spoke to him. So God appears to Abram with such glories that Abram couldn’t mistake the divine authority of this call. He tells Abram to leave the land he’s always known, leave his friends and the things that have made his life comfortable for so long.
Now, I’ve heard this passage used many times at missions conferences. Be willing to leave your country, your family, your possesions if God calls you. In fact, God did call my family to do just that when we moved to Papua New Guinea in my teenage years. He later called me out of a very comfortable career into full-time ministry. But clearly, God does not call us all into foreign missions or full-time ministy. So is there a call that God gives to believers that maybe we haven’t seen here before?
How much do I really love God. Am I really willing to leave my home if God calls me to a new place? I mean I’ve lived in everything from bamboo huts in the jungle to mansions in luxurious country clubs. Through all of that, I’ve learned to not be attached to any dwelling place other than his courts. Do I love God enough to leave at his bid?
I must say that it’s often been painful for me to leave certain places because of the people I had come to know while I was there. I’ve moved so many times in my life that sometimes I find it difficult to even make new friends at the risk of having to leave them later. I’ve even found it strange to relate to family members because of the calls of God on each of our lives that have led us apart from each other for so long. There is yet a longing in me to see them even as I write this, knowing that it is God who led us each to the places and countries we’re in today. Still, my love for God must run deeper than my longing to be with them.
God may never call you to a new place on the map. But this command which God gave to Abram is very much the same with the gospel call by which we - the seed of Abram - are brought into covenant with God. In Luke 14:33, Jesus says, "Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." What or whom we have loved in our hearts must give way to the grace we find in Christ. Let that thought settle in your mind! We must love all things and people, even the dearest less than Christ, hate them in comparison with him. And whenever any of these compete with him, they must be laid down, and we must prefer the will and honor of Jesus - or we cannot call ourselves his disciples.
Oh, that I would forsake all occassions for sin, abandon all idols which I have created in my heart, and get out of the way of temptation! That I would covenant with my eyes that they should have the pleasure of beholding the works of God. That I would keep constant watch over my heart and supress the first rising of corruption there. That I would resist the beginnings of sin and decline the company of those who will be a snare to me. That I would seek unto you, Lord, for grace, and depend on that grace daily, and so walk in your Spirit. This is what is meant in Matthew 5:29 when we’re told to pluck out our eye and cut off our hand if it leads us to sin. It is the destruction of the old man. That we would willingly part with whatever is dearest to us when we cannot keep it without bringing hazard to our integrity. The world, and all our enjoyments in it, must be looked at with a holy indifference and contempt so that we come to a place where we are no longer at home, but sit loose, reserving our affections for him.