It can be easy to fall into the error of looking at faith as a sort of economic transaction: I’ll do this for God, and God will do this for me. This happens when we recognize only part of the truth of what it means to be a believing Christian: we recognize that there is a giving and a receiving, but we fail to recognize, or we resist recognizing, that it is not merely a giving and receiving of things. What is being given and received are persons: God gives himself to us, and we give ourselves to God. That is what Christianity is all about, the Gospel is God’s giving of himself to us. Jesus died on the cross for our sake, not his own. He offers himself, and asks for ourselves in return. This is a big deal.
But sometimes it feels too big. Give ourselves? That’s too much to ask! Let’s keep the transaction impersonal, economic: we’d rather just give some time, some money, some effort. But our entire selves? That’s a tall order. We know that if we give ourselves over, then it means we need to say yes to the things God likes, and no to the things he doesn’t. We’d rather be “free”, independent, able to say yes to the things we like and no to the things we don’t like.
But the truth is that we have to give ourselves over to someone: if we refuse to give ourselves to another, we are giving ourselves to our own self. If we give ourselves over to self, it means we are handing ourselves over to our own desires and wants. Those desires don’t get smaller when we feed them, they get larger and stronger, and before we know it, they rule us and it becomes harder and harder to resist them. This is not freedom, it is a sort of slavery. We end up being owned by our wants, and our wants can sometimes be a tough and merciless taskmaster.
But when we give ourselves to God, we are giving ourselves to someone who loves us far more than we love our own self, and who proved it by dying on the cross for us. Yes, he sometimes asks for things that we might not be inclined to give, but he asks us these for our own good, not his. And he gives far more than he asks: life, joy, peace, love, hope. So do not be afraid to “go all in” and give yourself to God: God loves you so very much, even more than you know, and in him you will find freedom and life.
©Agapios Theophilus, 2017