I am currently in the process of buying the house that I currently rent. First off…holy junk, I’m gonna be a HOME OWNER!!! As I make the transition from renter to home owner I started thinking about how it applies to so many of us as Christians. Here’s what I mean…
As a renter there is no real investment. Your commitment to the house you live in is limited to the contract you signed. You pay the rent you are obligated to pay, but beyond that you don’t have to commit anything else to it. If the water heater goes out, it’s not yours, so you call the owner and they fix it. Anything that breaks or needs attention outside of normal care taking isn’t your responsibility. Eventually, when you no longer like the place, disagree on your commitment level or find something better, the contract allows you to simply walk away with no obligation. Because the house isn’t yours, because you weren’t invested, you can walk away with zero loss. On the surface this sounds like the best deal. But contrasted against ownership, it really isn’t.
When you own a home you get to invest in it. Yes you become responsible for all the imperfections and things that need repair, but everything else is yours too. Will you put money into it? Absolutely. In addition to money will it cost you time, sweat and hard work? Most definitely. But it’s yours. You get to make it YOUR home. You can decorate and make it yours. There is also the potential for amazing return. If you stay committed, put resources into it and invest in it, eventually it pays off (whether you sell it or pay it off and stay in it forever). Obviously I’m not saying you can sell Christianity, but the investment/return principle correlates (I’ll address that in a bit).
Many people treat Christianity this way. They go through life simply “renting” the title Christian. They may throw resources at it; they give up Sunday mornings for church, maybe they tithe, maybe they even serve on Sunday mornings, but they never really invest in it. They never own what it means to follow Christ. They maintain a contractual mindset in which they have come to believe that as long as they continue to pay what is “owed” they’ll always have a place to live. In essence they believe that as long as I believe in Jesus, go to church and pay tithe then I’m a Christian and I get to go to heaven. While that may be true, they never get to experience the fullness of life, here on earth, that Jesus promises. In John 10:10 Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” If we “rent” Christianity, the time will come when you become frustrated, disagree with the pastor, no longer agree with the commitment required, or you find something better and you just walk away, because you have nothing really invested and have no obligation to it.
In choosing to follow Christ we have the opportunity to invest our whole self in something amazing that has an immeasurable rate of return…the lost found. Is it messy? For sure. Do you run the risk of being hurt? Yeah. But anything worthy of pursuit with that rate of return brings the potential for great personal loss. Besides, “what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
Fullness of life isn’t meant solely for heaven, it’s meant for and can be experienced now. But it requires that you fully and completely submit to and follow Christ. And that…you just have to own.