If your boss called you into his or her office today and told you that, since nothing else matters as much as winning the allegiance of voters, you must sell all of your possessions, say goodbye to your friends and family, and focus your every ounce of strength and waking hour on the campaign until election day, would you do it?
Think about it: If the boss doesn’t win another term, you are out of a job. If you are out of a job, how are you going to pay the rent, buy food and clothes, or take care of your family if you have one?
And will you ever be able to get your career back on track after such a setback? What does it mean for your plan someday to go back home and run for Congress yourself?
Or form a lobbying firm that makes you a rich and influential insider? Or become senior vice-president for government affairs of a multi-billion dollar, global-spanning Fortune 100 corporation?
Oh sure, you have lots of connections on the Hill, a bundle of IOUs from colleagues for whom you’ve done numerous favors over the years, and you’ve definitely gained skills that can help lots of senators and representatives in your party who are re-elected.
“If you are out of a job, how are you going to pay the rent, buy food and clothes, or take care of your family if you have one?”
You’ll be fine, right? Right??
Ok, let’s get back to the real world. What boss would ever make such a demand?
Hey, it happens. Here’s one who did two thousand years ago in an obscure backwater of the Roman Empire:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
“And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”
“And he said to him, ‘Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.’ And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
Don’t forget that this is the same Jesus who, exactly as he predicted would happen, was later crucified dead, buried in a borrowed grave, and, according to his paltry little band of followers, was resurrected. He used those few disciples in the following decades to change the world in countless ways that shape so much of our lives today.
Why am I posing this question to you, somebody who works for a senator, or a representative, or perhaps a congressional committee, and thus could well have the path to a life of success, fame and comfort?
Well, there was a time when I, too, had a boss that I revered and served, in some ways perhaps like a god. His name was Ronald Reagan. I worked on the Hill for four years, then devoted my life for the next six years to helping Reagan get elected president and to govern. For better and worse, it remains the signal experience of my career, one of which I am most proud.
“In the nation’s capital, it’s so very easy to mistake ambition for ourselves as working to advance somebody else.“
One thing I learned, the hard way, in those years was that in the nation’s capital, it’s so very easy to mistake ambition for ourselves as working to advance somebody else. At best, we assume it’s a “win-win” for everybody, as the familiar nostrum puts it.
So here’s another question for you: If you think this life is all there is, why give yourself to anything or anybody but yourself. As they say, “you only go around once, so go for all the gusto you can grab.” It’s all relative, right?
But Jesus mentioned something to the rich, young ruler about “treasure in Heaven.” He was referring to what happens to all of us after we leave this earth. What if that’s the most important thing? And He really was resurrected? He may well not call you to the ultimate sacrifices, but I guarantee you He will change your life. And you will love Him for it.
Think about it.
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