Here is one of the most wonderful and terrifying sentences I have ever read, from William Law’s Serious Call, “If you will look into your own heart in utter honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not even now a saint. You do not wholly want to be.”That insight is terrifying because it is an indictment, but it is wonderful and hopeful because it is also an offer, an open door. Each of us can become a saint. We really can. We really can. I say it three times, because I think we do not really believe that deep down. For if we did, how could we endure being anything less?What holds us back? Fear of paying the price. What is the price? The answer is simple. T. S. Eliot gave it when he defined Christianity as “a condition of complete simplicity…costing not less than everything.” The price is everything—100 percent. Martyrdom, if required, and probably a worse martyrdom than the quick noose or stake, the martyrdom of dying daily, dying every minute for the rest of your life. Dying to all your desires and plans—including your plans about how to become a saint. (Peter Kreeft, Culture War)
So the minimum requirement is everything. Sounds kind of extreme, right? It is. But God doesn’t ask this of us to torture or test us. And he doesn’t do it to keep us from enjoying pleasure and joy.
On the contrary, He does it because he wants us to experience life to the full. Because giving everything is what sets us free to love most perfectly and to enjoy life most fully. It’s what sets us free to be who we were made to be.
We can give God everything else, but if we hold back even the smallest corner of our lives for ourselves, we remain slaves. Slaves to our own desires and wants. Unfree to love perfectly and completely. Unfree to experience life to the full.
Give everything. And how do we give everything? What does that look like? Our next posts will be exploring just that.