In his book Spiritual Depression Martin Lloyd-Jones said that many people in the church that feel like they are not close to God are in that condition because they “are people who decide to take up Christianity instead of being taken up by Christianity.” I like that way of describing it. Christianity cannot be something we just “take up.”
Have you ever used that phrase—take up? Maybe you decided to take up guitar; you strummed it for a few weeks, but the callouses on your fingers got to be too much. You decided to take up painting, but you realized you are no Bob Ross. Many of us have remnants from the things we took up but never mastered. Following Jesus cannot be like a new hobby we decide to give a try.
Before taking up a hobby we need to decide if we are willing to make the commitment. Do I have room in my house to set up an art studio or a grand piano? Am I willing to spend the money on the new camera or the boat with all its accessories? Some people make these decisions on a whim and then end up regretting it. Some people join a church or make a profession of faith on a whim, without first deciding if following the Lord is something they are willing to do. Jesus addressed this in Luke 14:28 when He asked, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
Jesus’ point is that we would not start the construction of a building without knowing the cost. No one wants to be halfway finished and realize they cannot afford to complete it. In the same way, we should not declare our allegiance to God without first seeing what that would require, and if we are willing to pay the price.
Instead of taking up Christianity, Lloyd-Jones said we need to be taken up by Christianity. We need to allow our faith to take control of us. This means that Christianity is not something we do, but something we become. It is not the same thing as joining a club or signing up for a membership somewhere. Christianity, when properly understood, transforms our lives. Those who merely take it up never experience the true transformation it is meant to bring.
When it comes to Christianity, once we consider the cost we need to go all in. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23).” This is not like taking up a hobby for a week and then letting it collect dust. When we give our hearts to the Lord and follow Him completely, we will avoid the spiritual depression that results from not being committed to the God we claim to follow. We will grow closer to Him and not have to wonder if we are truly saved.