When Jesus calls people to discipleship in the gospels, he challenges them to give up things that stand between them and God. This often sounds harsh.
He tells the rich young ruler, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me”(Luke 18:22). He calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John from their jobs as fishermen: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”(Matt 4:19). Matthew also leaves behind his work as a tax collector to follow Jesus (Matt 9:9). As he gains popularity, Jesus warns the crowds to count the cost of following him. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple”(Luke 14:26). Discipleship will mean giving up things that matter to us and subordinating them to Jesus.
We tend to think that Christianity is a thing we can also do. We think of it like joining a club, where we attend meetings and support a cause while we spend most of our time pursuing other things. Or we think of it as a belief we add to others, like a political stance we adopt. Yet Jesus’ insistence that people give up their money, jobs, and relationships shows us that he wants a commitment that goes deeper. Jesus wants our hearts.
This means that we must be willing to allow him to control the hardest, dearest, and most ingrained parts of our lives. And when our commitment to Jesus comes into conflict with those things—threatening how we treat our family, or what we do with our money, or how committed we are to our work—then we must put Jesus first. We must allow Jesus to address and heal the parts of our life that are out of control and in rebellion.
So what’s your secret compartment? What is the part of your life that is most resistant to the rule of Jesus? Where is your greatest struggle? What part of your heart most hesitates to submit fully to Jesus? Is it a determination to be noticed and make a name for yourself? Is it a sexual desire that is out of control? Is it a refusal to forgive someone for things they have done to you? Is it an inability to control your speech? Is it a love of money and desire to be rich? Is it honesty—or anger—or addiction? If Jesus were to speak directly to you, this is the part of your life he would insist you give up.
Until we uncover our secret compartment and cede control of it over to Jesus, everything else we do in his name will be rather shallow. But once we have submitted that part to Jesus, everything else will seem simple in comparison.