I am happily trapped in English literature these days. As I spend time with Jane Austen and her compatriots, the theme of love over money persists. Men and women of position and fortune are expected to marry position and fortune. To choose a spouse of lower standing for love is to do your family and yourself a disservice. The brave heroes and heroines in these novels faithfully follow the formula; they fall in love with someone beneath them and chose to follow their heart instead of their breeding.
Falling in love causes us to reevaluate priorities, agree to life-altering changes, and lose ourselves for a greater cause. Love shifts our focus off of ourselves. The object of our affection takes priority.
In Austen’s novels, falling in love leads to sacrifice. In Romans, the transforming love of Christ compels us to the same.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:1-2, ESV)
The concept of a living sacrifice makes perfect sense while sitting on the thin pages of Scripture. Jesus gave His life for me; I should give my life to Him. However, when I try to transform these black and white words into technicolor, the image is skewed.
My attempts at living sacrifice often look like routine religion in the setting of the American Dream. Weekly church attendance, unwanted clothes deposited at the local mission, and posing for pictures during our church’s serve day all give the appearance of a loving, living sacrifice. Deep self-examination tells me I am more closely aligned with the despicable characters in Austen’s novels. I am committed to position and fortune instead of head-over-heels love and sacrifice for my Jesus.
Nearly a decade ago, I found myself in the free fall that only happens when one is hopelessly in love. After reading Crazy Love (Francis Chan) and Radical (David Platt), I felt deeply committed to the exchange of my life for the gospel. I invited a foreign exchange student to live with us and traveled over oceans and fear to a third world country. Slowly, complacency has covered me like the black that steadily invades the night. The Light is now dim, but my eyes are acclimated to the darkness.
Shannan Martin’s book, Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted, invites me back into the light to stand with shaking knees on the ledge of true love. She challenges me to redefine the Christian vocabulary that tumbles off my tongue too easily: sacrifice, neighbor, community, faith, love.
A few treasures found in her brokenness:
We so often say we believe that there is no safer place than the center of God’s will, but we refuse to believe he would ever lead us to places of brokenness or danger.
True financial freedom is found not by storing up, safeguarding, or protecting our cash like a tiny, cooing baby. In fact, the only way to experience financial freedom is to be freed from the finances.
Central to the way I steward my home and love my neighbor is my willingness to expose my messes, scars, and the stubborn humanity I can’t seem to keep at bay.
To our detriment, we’ve swallowed the hook that says a good church is hip, wired, programmed to the hilt, and offers a top-notch coffee bar. With intentions that might actually be good, we wring the gospel from our meetings and are left with something that might appeal to members of a certain social status but scarcely resembles Jesus.
I could go on. My highlighter bled dry on the pages of this book. Shannan doesn’t have the Christian life perfectly figured out (does anybody, really?). Instead, she shares from her own fall to freedom. The Christian life isn’t something to be mastered with a holy checklist. It is a messy experience of loving one person at a time. Offering one sacrifice at a time. Taking one leap of faith at a time.The Christian life isn't something to be mastered with a holy checklist.Click To Tweet
I am ready for love to win the battle over position and fortune, for discomfort to become my normal, and generosity to be my default. I am ready for the fall to freedom.
Come stand on the ledge with me. Grab a copy of Shannan’s book here. (Go ahead and add a new highlighter to your Amazon cart; you will need it.)
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