The Truly Free Follower of Jesus
We’re not talking here about those who superficially identify as Christian, or those who are vaguely religious. Nor are we talking about the typical North American churchgoer. We are here speaking of those who are serious about following and obeying Christ.
Ignatian spirituality guides genuinely committed, earnest, followers of Jesus in their walk with God. Every follower of Jesus is called to fully and unconditionally surrender to the King of kings, and doing so is our greatest freedom and joy. Yet, we invariably find ourselves hindered. Like the rich young ruler, we turn away sorrowing.
St. Ignatius suggests that we followers of the Lord tend to fall into one of three categories, viz.:
- The procrastinator
- The compromiser
- The one who is truly free
The procrastinator recognized her Lord calling her to surrender everything, agrees to do so, then puts it off, pushes it to the back burner, and busies herself with other things. For the committed Jesus-apprentice, those other things are often good things – things to which no one would object – things like serving the poor, visiting the sick, and preaching the word. This disciple is so busy serving God, she never gets around to fully yielding to God. Fellow believers applaud her service. No one confronts her disobedience.
The compromiser likewise recognizes his Lord calling him to fully surrender, and similarly agrees that that is indeed what is best, but makes accommodations so he can hang onto something. He surrenders everything except the one main thing. For the rich young ruler, the one thing was money. For others, it might be family, marriage, kids, parents, a career, or a legacy. The compromiser reasons that surely God would not ask him to give up thatthing. He becomes adept at finding scripture to justify his compromise. Sisters and brothers, many of whom have likewise compromised, cheer him on.
The truly free person holds all of God’s gifts lightly. Every gift – the ability to serve, teach, or visit – gifts of friends, family, houses, or food – is recognized as God-given and is gratefully received from God. Every gift is used and enjoyed for the glory of God. But the truly free person is just as content, just as happy, if the gift goes away. All is surrendered. God can do whatever God wants with the gift of teaching, the ability to connect with and help the poor, my house, my bank account, and my family members.
Into which category do I fall?