This post is part of a series, primarily aimed at parents who have questions about sending their son or daughter to IHOPU or young people who want to know what they are getting into there at IHOPU or the wider IHOP-KC community.
Watch out, this is a trick question. I imagine a bunch of eager hands in the air, “OOOh, I know this one! I serve GOD! I give my life up for HIM!!! Because He is worthy! I stood up at a conference to pledge my utter devotion, I took a sacred charge at another one, I fasted for 21 days, I danced on my head, I held up my shoes…I know the answer, ILOVEGODSOMUCHIWILLSERVEHIMFOREVERATANYCOST!!!!!!!”
I’ve been there. I love Him, too. But can I share something with you?
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?” Rom. 11:35
This Living God, He is totally unique, and utterly unlike all the other gods. Not only can you not give Him a gift (because everything you have is His, Job 41:11), you cannot even repay Him for what He gives you. Because He gives you everything.
See, the reason this is a trick question is because all the rhetoric you’ll hear implies that it is so difficult to get young people to sacrifice for God. That it is so unique, so radical, so outrageous to give up your “all” to be an Anna or a Simeon or a forerunner. They make it sound like it is the last thing on earth that a self-focused young person would want to do, and thus it must be extraordinarily holy. But that’s the trick. It’s not that hard to do. People of every tribe and nation since the beginning of human history have been making radical sacrifices on false altars.
Here is what the Bible says:
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Ps. 51: 16-17
It takes NO humility to sign up at a conference for an internship. It requires zero repentance to promise to pray and rock for 40 hours a week. It requires no contrition to acquire a following as you play music from a stage several times a week. It takes no anguish over the sinfulness of your heart to learn high-faluting obscure doctrines, dream dreams, or seek trances and visitations from angels. These are all things that you will find in any number of pagan religions. None of them require the cross. All of them are gifts you give to a god.
But here’s how you know you’re responding to the Living God, the True God, instead of a false god. (Bel and Nebo were Babylonian idols.)
Bel bows down; Nebo stoops;
their idols are on beasts and livestock;
these things you carry are borne
as burdens on weary beasts.
2 They stoop; they bow down together;
they cannot save the burden,
but themselves go into captivity.
3 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
carried from the womb;
4 even to your old age I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save. Is. 46:1-4
False gods need you. They need you to carry them. They need your money, they need your time, they need you to carry them from place to place. Service to them leaves you weary, tired, and is burdensome. Their servants are drained, are exhausted, are empty, are unhelped, are sad, are pitiful, are pious and devoted, and are pretending. Sound familiar?
The true God laughs at such foolishness. He has made, He will bear, He will carry, and He will save. He needs nothing. He GIVES everything.
Don’t miss the simplicity of what I’m saying. The true God certainly does not need you to spend your youth in Grandview, Missouri, so that He can manage to keep His promise to return and judge the earth. Going back to those young people who join in to the next radical “mandate,” “charge,” “movement,” or “mantle,” I have to tell you that the reason the fruit is so horrible is because the root is pride. These young people need to break over the lust in their hearts, the self-love, the rebellion toward authority, the love of the world, the zeal for the praise of man, all the sins that actually block fellowship with God (not lack of prayer and fasting)…and weep before the cross. This is the sacrifice that God requires. In return, He gives not a life of destitute mysticism, but ABUNDANT LIFE (Jn. 10:10).
I would have to quote pretty much the whole Bible to describe to you the promises of blessing, salvation, and abundance for those who fear the Lord, so I’ll have to settle for hoping merely to have opened eyes to this theme. I’ll just remind you of Peter jumping up to resist the Lord when He knelt to wash Peter’s feet, and the Lord’s response to him, here. I’ll remind you that Jesus said He came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Spending tens of thousands of dollars on an “education” you can’t use, raising money to house your family because you aren’t working, praying and singing for 40 hours a week, fasting, then fasting, then fasting some more…these commands are burdensome. That is why the faces are weary and sad. All supposedly to Love God. But “…this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 Jn. 5:3