One of the things I enjoy about streaming music on Spotify is that on the radio setting it causes me to listen to all kinds of songs and artists. Such was the case this morning, when during my workout, Francesca Battistelli’s song “This is the stuff” came on (my Audio Adrenaline station might I add). The first two lines of the chorus go, “This is the stuff that drives me crazy, This is the stuff that’s getting to me lately.” Those lines sung over and over throughout the song caused me to begin thinking about the stuff that drives me crazy.
Since I was at the gym it only seemed appropriate to begin there: it drives me crazy when someone swipes the weights I am using. It drives me crazy when the restroom has no paper towels in the dispenser. It drives me crazy when the house music is so loud that I can hear it over the John MacArthur sermon coming through my ear buds. Then I extended my lamenting: bad drivers drive me crazy. Period. Cardinal losses drive me crazy. Botched coffee orders drive me crazy. The fact that my house does not remain pristinely clean drives me crazy. The fact that I’m a time oriented individual and my five year old doesn’t always operate according to my schedule drives me crazy. The lawn requiring a cut every week drives me crazy. The bees that invaded my backyard drive me crazy. Still, I went deeper. Casual Christianity drives me crazy. A false teacher leading folk’s astray drives me crazy. Majoring on the minor and minoring on the major in church life drives me crazy. Criticism, backbiting, and negativity among Christians drive me crazy. Pouring into students in hopes of being used of God to transform them into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ only to see them walk away from the Lord drives me crazy. Seeing some neglect the truths of God for the sake of personal preference and self-satisfaction drives me crazy. Wow! What a list, and it kept mounting up. This is the stuff that drives me crazy, this is the stuff that’s been getting to me lately…
Then, through the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit, God called my attention to Matthew 16:24: “Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continuously.” Perhaps you are different, but I have a tendency to “settle into” my Christianity from time to time. That is, I experience incredible stretches of growth, but then become comfortable with where I am. And every time I become comfortable, things start to drive me crazy. During my “drive me crazy” lamenting and focus on Matthew 16:24 I began to realize for the first time that the reason life begins to drive me crazy is because when I grow comfortable in my faith I have most likely ceased carrying out the daily assignment of Matthew 16:24: deny myself, pick up my cross (die to self), and follow Jesus continuously (daily).
Salvation in Jesus Christ is much more than what most of modern Christianity says it is. Salvation IS God’s initiative towards humans, it IS forgiveness of sins through Christ alone, it IS a newly restored relationship with the God of the universe, and it IS the promise of dwelling eternally with God in heaven after this earthly life passes away. But it is more. It is also enlistment into a process, a process called sanctification, which takes place between the moment one trusts in Jesus for salvation and the moment their earthly body ceases to draw breath. It’s a process of God, through the Holy Spirit, putting the broken pieces of a sinful human’s life back together. It’s a process because it is not instantaneous, nor is it automatic. It’s a process in which God does all of the work within the context of the individual’s willingness and availability. What willingness and availability? That of Matthew 16:24: that I deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus continuously. When continuously stops, when I stop denying and dying to self, when I stop following Jesus…life begins to drive me crazy because at that point I’m living outside of the purpose for which I have been created and saved for.
I desperately needed this God-ordained lesson today. In one respect I want to always be driven crazy by the things that matter in the scope of eternity (such as the last several things I mentioned in my lamenting above). But on the other hand I want to live above and beyond the little things that drive me crazy. I want to live in the realm of denying myself, taking up my cross, and following Jesus continuously all the while putting others above myself. The reason this lesson is so important for me is because sanctification is a never-ending process on this side of heaven. And unless I want to be driven crazy by every little quirk of life, I must keep my eyes on Jesus, denying myself, taking up my cross, and following Him daily.