Reverse cultural shock
After hearing for more than two years about how hard it is returning to your passport country after being abroad I was expecting the worst! It is going to be so difficult, I thought to myself. I have changed so much. I don’t want to disappoint anybody.
Arriving home was great. I could not stop looking at what a beautiful house my parents had and how nice they and my brothers were. Many of my friends are now married and some even had kids I had never met. It was interesting to see how the conversation topics had changed and at times I felt like I was a couple of life stages behind them, but it was still excited to get to know the new additions to my friend's lives.
I admired nature, enjoyed good food, had amazing conversations with friends, visited churches and was encouraged by how much God is doing in my home country. But just when I was getting used to all that it was time to head back onto the mission field. Although I was excited to start a new adventure I didn’t feel ready to leave yet, leading me to ask the question: what kind of life do I want to live?
I didn’t head straight back to the Logos Hope, but went to Trinidad to organize for the ships arrival in 2017. While preparing to share devotions with my team I was reminded of a book I read a couple of years ago. Once I started it I couldn’t stop until I finished (which took me only two days). ‘Radical’ by David Platt talks about the life that we are called to live as sons and daughters of God.
Often when Jesus called His followers He said things like “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53); “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24); “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life - such a person cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26). Not the most appealing invitations yet they altered history.
I could choose to live my life as I once did – enjoying church on Sundays and seeking success based on what other people said: a family, house, car and a nice job. Or I could take an honest look at Jesus in the Bible and be willing to face the consequences of what might happen if I really believe and obey Him.
There is a young man in the Bible who was rich and influential (Mark 10:17-31). “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v.17) Jesus told him: “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (v.21)
I think sometimes we are afraid of what it could mean to give up everything and follow Christ. We try to explain it by saying “Jesus meant ... when he said that!” and start shaping our lives and Jesus into a version we are more comfortable with. A Jesus who wants us to live a balanced life, nothing too extreme (after all, He would never ask us to leave our closest people behind!), and wants us to be comfortable and have an abundance of everything.
This is where we twist Jesus in such a way that He starts looking a whole lot more like us and whole less like the Jesus described in the Bible. To the point where when we sing and lift up our hands in worship we may not be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible, but instead, ourselves.
I remembered the reason why I left home. There are still countless people in this world who are currently destined to die without experiencing the fulfilment and eternal life that I have found in Christ.
If Jesus really is who He said He is, and He is faithful in fulfilling His promises, then may we realize that satisfaction in our lives is not found in what society says is right, but in radical obedience and abandonment to Jesus. Once we have been changed there is no turning back.
Is Jesus worth leaving everything you have behind?