To be a Christian is not to be a club member. It’s not to join a spa, or it’s not a hobby, or it’s not a thing you do once for twenty minutes a week on Sunday morning. It’s a whole life commitment. Everything else has to be secondary. Nothing else can matter. If we can do that, then we can be filled.
So where are you along that continuum of “don’t want to be restricted at all” to be completely wanting to spend your whole life trying to serve God and live His way and become like him.
A few years ago – well, it was more than a few now – but for those of you who can remember way back to when Michael Jordan was playing basketball and was reaching the apex of his celebrity – there was a commercial where a little kid wanted to be like Mike. Remember that commercial? That’s sort of a tawdry reminder of how we need to be with Jesus Christ and God. We need to idolize Him, not Mike. And we need to put all of our effort into being like him. That’s what this beatitude is about. It’s what it is telling us.
God is not going to give us that gift. He’s not going to fill us up with righteousness unless we really, really want it.
Have you ever given somebody a gift and you realize, as you observe the look on their face, that they didn’t have appreciation for the gift that you gave them? I’m not saying that’s your fault or their fault. It just sometimes happens, because sometimes we don’t know what people value. Giving gifts is always a socially risky business. So it takes some courage to give and receive gifts. With this one, God is not going to take any risks. He’s going to make sure we want it before He gives it to us. And He’s going to know that we want it by how much we pursue it. He’s going to make sure we want it. He’s going to watch us all our lives to see how badly we want it – how much time we put into it, how much effort, how much thought, how much we’re willing to sacrifice.
I had a client who was a gymnast. She was just a little girl – thirteen years old. You’d look at her and she just seemed like a regular-looking little teenage girl – kind of tiny. One day she was showing me something on her hand and I noticed how thick her little fingers were from all of that hanging on to those bars. And I saw calluses on the insides of her fingers and on her palms, where she had swung on the bars so much. I was asking her about her workouts. She told me that she went to a gymnastics club five days a week, from three o’clock in the afternoon till seven at night. I said, “Well, what do you do there?” She said, “Well, I practice my skills” – that’s the moves that they do in competition – “and I do strength training.” I said, “Well, what do you do for strength training?” She said, “Well, I happen to be weak in the upper body, so I do a lot of upper- body strength training on the bars – mostly pullovers and pull-ups and stuff like that.” I said, “Oh. How many pull-ups can you do?” She said, “I did twenty-five yesterday.” And she’s one that’s weak in the upper body, right? I said, “Without stopping?” And she said, “Yeah, twenty-five at a time.” I was talking to her some more and I learned that she had a detached tendon in her ankle from all the work she’s been putting out. I said, “What’s that like?” She said, “Well, it doesn’t hurt to walk on it, but I have a lot of trouble running and landing. And I have to really tape it up. But, even then, when I land on it, it hurts.” So I said, “So why do you do all of that?” She said, “Well, I want to see how far I can go and how good I can be. And I’ve been getting a lot better lately. That’s really exciting for me and encouraging. And I know it’s going to be good for me, because I have learned how to keep going, even when I am tired, injured, discouraged or afraid.” I said, “Afraid?” She said, “Yeah, have you ever tried to do a giant? Pretty scary!” You see it on the Olympics. They make it look easy, but it’s very hard. I said, “How do you learn to do those things?” She said, “Well, we have this thing called the pit, and it’s filled up with foam rubber things. So, if you fall off, you go down in it.” She said, “The other day I went in the pit with my head, my coach had to pull me out by my feet.” She fell off of this thing, I guess. I said, “When do you do homework?” “Well, all the rest of the time when I’m not at the gym. There’s not much time for anything else during the week,” she said. “Do you have to stay up late sometimes to get your homework done?” She said, “A lot. I’m tired all the time.” So I said, “With all that work and time that you put in, don’t you miss out on a social life. I mean, that’s what most teenagers your age are really interested in?” She said, “I don’t know many people at school – mostly just the girls at the gym.” “Do you ever wonder if you’re missing out on anything?” She said, “I think mostly I missing out on a lot of drama.” I had to concur there. She said, “Girls my age seem to have a hard time getting along.” So I said, “Don’t you wish you had more social life?” She said, “I know it’s out there, but I can have that or I can have gymnastics, and I have chosen gymnastics.”