Tony Campolo tells the story of a day when a man brought his young adult son into Campolo’s office and pushed the son into a chair. The father then began to make it known in no uncertain terms that he was unhappy with the way his son had turned out. “I sent him to college to get a good education, to make something of himself, and people like you got his head turned around. Look at him now. He’s doing mission work. He’s out on the streets with pimps and whores and drug pushers. He’s given away his money to poor old ladies. He’s living like a pauper and all he cares about is reaching out to the losers of the world.” Then the father added, “Don’t get me wrong, Campolo, I don’t mind being Christian – up to a point!”
Campolo notes that when he tells that story, there are always waves of snickering and laughter that go through the congregation, and then he reminds his listeners, “Aren’t we all that way? Aren’t we all ready and willing to be Christians – up to a point? And shouldn’t we all realize that if we want to be true followers of Jesus we will have to move beyond that point?”
Campolo has a knack for challenging hearers and readers at the very core of our being and the foundation of our faith. In a world where there is much debate about what it means to be Christian and what the church needs to be and do, we must begin by hearing and obeying the call of Jesus who told us in Luke 9:23-24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” It is never enough to be Christian or follow Jesus – up to a point. We must offer God all of ourselves and hold nothing back from him. We must prayerfully consider what we must leave behind in order to follow Jesus. Let us, then, commit ourselves to praying that God will help us know how to move deeper in our commitment and service to Christ and God’s Kingdom. Join me in praying that God will help us see what attitudes, actions, thoughts, and priorities need God’s transforming touch.