2020-07-24 - Live With Abandon
Originally Published on 01-24-2013
To live with abandon means to live totally in a way that is given over or surrendered to something, with no regard for anything else. Usually this refers to following our baser instincts, without regard for what’s right and wrong. This kind of life can be summed up in the following quotes or others like them:
All these are statements about living with abandon, but what are abandoned is usually God and morality. Most adults who have been there, done that and got the t-shirt, can tell you this kind of living usually results in a train wreck.
But a popular Christian song these days encourages us to live with abandon. What gives? Let’s examine the sentiment in the song — the meaning in the music — or the reasoning of the rhyme. We should do this with any music we allow to fly freely through the air, in our head. Here are a few lines from the chorus.
The song begins by saying that chasing after the things of this world and seeking your own praise is foolish. That sounds a lot like the wisdom of Solomon, as recorded in his writings from the Old Testament.
The song goes on to make what appears to be an allusion to some scripture in the ninth chapter of Luke. I'll get to that in a moment. You can easily find the content of the whole song online, so I'd encourage you to search for it when you have some time to read it in its entirety.
The song is about abandoning your pursuits, to pursue what God wants. That is exactly the kind of living with abandon that I want - dropping everything to follow Jesus, giving my all to him. The greatest commandment, as found in Luke 10:25-28, is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Give it all to him. That means you are his to command. Jesus calls to the disciples, "Come, and follow me." They dropped their nets and left it all to follow him, in passages like Luke 5:1-11. For James and John, it was a family business, so they left their dad hanging, to go follow Jesus. Peter also left his fishing business behind to follow Jesus. Matthew was a tax collector. No Jew liked him, since tax collectors worked for the enemy, and often ripped people off - collecting more than they needed - to just to fill their own pockets. When he quit, someone quickly filled his place as the area tax collector, and he had nothing to go back to, if it didn’t pan out. That is abandoning all for Jesus.
In the final verses of Luke 9, three followers came along, but they didn’t want to follow with absolute abandon, and so they went away. In Luke 18, the rich young ruler was also not willing to give it all up. All four of these men wanted to follow Jesus on their terms, not his. They are examples of how not to follow Jesus, and yet it seems they are our pattern today. I'll serve Jesus, as long as it doesn’t interfere with anything like hunting season, quality time with my television, or sports. Teens attend church as long as their friends are there, and as long as they don't have practice for band, chorus, cheerleading, soccer, football, basketball, baseball, or chess club. People will read their Bible, if there's time left over at the end of the day, or cable goes out.
But the disciples are mostly true examples of what living with abandon looks like. These men weren't perfect, and while Jesus was still on Earth, many of them appear at times to be clueless, but in the end, all but Judas Iscariot were sold out for him. They gave all to follow Jesus - even their very lives - for many of them. Andrew was crucified in Greece. Bartholomew was martyred, although I've read differing stories of his death. James the Lesser was killed in Jerusalem. James, the brother of John, was beheaded by Herod in Jerusalem. John was boiled in oil, but survived, and was later exiled to the island of Patmos and died at the end of a long life. Peter was crucified in Rome. Philip was crucified in Asia Minor. Simon died in old age, serving the church in Jerusalem. Matthew was killed in Ethiopia. Thaddeus, also known as the other Judas, died in Mesopotamia. Thomas was speared to death in India. Matthias, Judas' replacement, was stoned and then beheaded. Mark, the writer of the gospel bearing his name, was not one of the twelve apostles, but he died while being drug behind horses, in the streets of Alexandria. Luke was hung in Greece. Paul, who once helped persecute Christians, then became one, and was also martyred in Rome.
Paul's travels around the Mediterranean Sea are documented in the book of Acts. He expected persecution everywhere he went.
Acts 13:22-24 (NASB)
Paul obediently went where God commanded, knowing "bonds and afflictions" were waiting on him. He put Jesus first in all that he did. He lived with abandon. He penned that sentiment to the church at Philippi when he wrote, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 NASB) Obedience to God does not bring us safety. Paul said he was convinced it brought hardship. For most of Jesus’ followers, it brought death. Under Roman persecution, Christians were crucified, fed to lions, and burned alive. Jesus said his followers had to pick up crosses, instruments of death, daily to follow him. (See Luke 9:28.) Further, Jesus promised that his followers would be persecuted, just as he had been. (See John 15:18-20.) He commands us to consider the cost of discipleship and come to him if we are still willing. He says that and much more in Luke 14:25-33. Come to him, if that is all we can think of.
The Peace Corps evidently aired a commercial at some point that said, "If you’re not doing something with your life, it doesn’t matter how long you live." I’d add to this little sound bite, just a bit. If you’re not doing something of eternal significance with your life, it doesn’t matter how long you live. With that in mind, let me ask, how do you live your life? What are you doing with it? Is it lived for God, without fear? Jesus says we can live for him, without fear, in John 16:33 when he says, "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
I can only speak for myself, but too often, I play it safe. Too many times, I hold back, afraid of what people might think. I don’t offer my body as a living sacrifice, as I should according to Romans 12:1 (NIV). I know I have been crucified with Christ, and it's no longer me but Christ that lives in me, according to Galatians 2:20 (NLT), but way too often, I’m resuscitating that dead flesh and letting it run my life. I want to abandon my fears and worries. I want to abandon all the trappings of this life. I want to follow Christ and build his kingdom. I want to live with abandon. As that old hymn says, I want to surrender all. All to Jesus, blessed savior, I surrender all. If you want to surrender all to Jesus, then stand with me right now. Let’s shake this world up, as we give it all up for Jesus.
1Newsboys; Publishing: © 2013 Meaux Hits / Red Red Soda Pop (ASCAP) / Kipp Williams Publishing Designee (SESAC) / Jon White Publishing Designee
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted