Give Your Life Away
Our friend Marcel Serubungo is a pastor who works with World Relief in his hometown of Goma, Congo.
Eastern Congo has, for decades, been one of the most violent and difficult places on this planet. When a team from Antioch was first with Marcel in Congo, he made the comment, "If you do not commit suicide – like we have committed suicide – then do not come to the Congo."
This powerful statement, began a domino effect that led to the phrase "Give your life away," which drives much of our thinking at Antioch.
It's not a trite cliché for die hard masochists or frowning joyless Christians, but a phrase that captures an invitation Jesus gives to all men and women.
You see, the truth is we all give our lives away... it's just a question of what we're giving it to. We spend or invest our lives on television, video games, money, power, sex, leisure, adventure, fame etc., but Jesus taught these things, paradoxically, don't give life in return. They are a bad investment. If we look for life by spending ourselves here, we won't find it.
Jesus said, "Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."
The invitation from Jesus is to give our lives to him – not to give our lives away flippantly, but faithfully... not to give them away as life-negaters or joyless souls, but as those who care about life enough to seek it through self-denial and find joy through trial.
Money, power, amusement and pleasure – objects we give our lives to in a consumer culture – ironically consume us in the end. Conversely, giving ourselves away to God, serving others, laboring for justice, loving sacrificially – the things Jesus commanded us – give life back. If we lose our lives, for him, we'll find them.
Recently, at my dinner table, I asked Marcel about his "suicide quote."
He reflected and remembered his words. Then he slowly elaborated in his characteristic measured pace. He talked about getting on his knees before each difficult trip and giving his life to Jesus, whether he returns or not... whether Jesus gives him his life back or not, he gives it all to God. When his family hears about trouble in a region he's in, Marcel says "they don't eat that day," which is his way of saying they fast and pray.
At Antioch, as hard as we know the words sound, we believe every Christian is called to give his or her life over to Christ – to give their lives away – knowing that only Christ can truly give life back.
We invite you to seek along with us to Give Your Life Away.
If the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36