When Christ said “Come and follow me”, there are many things that we all have had to give up, in order to truly walk in a manner worthy of this high calling. As Christians, there will always be the tension between our flesh and the choices Christ calls us to make. However, if we as modern Christians boil the entirety of our walk with Christ down to a list of things we should and shouldn’t do, then we have missed the point completely.
Something that has recently had me thinking about what it means to follow Christ is Kip Moore’s new song, Dirt Road. For those of you who don’t know, (I’m now wondering why we’re even friends!) Kip Moore is an up and coming Country artist with many radio hits- all of which I quite enjoy. This particular song struck a different chord this time around, because it speaks to a view of Christianity that I’m afraid many people hold, but unfortunately falls very short. Kip’s song starts out with the line “When the preacher talks of heaven, he paints it real nice, He says you better get to livin’, better get to livin’ right”. Immediately this tells me that this “preacher” is preaching a sales pitch of heaven as opposed to sharing the glory, grace and love that stems from Christ himself- and Christ alone. The second verse goes on to say “You better quit your drinkin’, you better quit your smokin’ too, people trading in your backseat Saturday nights for a Sunday morning pew.” So IF you want to go to heaven, here are all the things you have to do- or moreover, what you need to not do. To me this paints a picture of a scale- which is more important: going to heaven or doing the things that I enjoy here on earth?
The chorus ultimately tells us that Kip is not convinced- this preachers sales pitch of WHY you should give up drinking and smoking and spend your Sunday mornings in church isn’t enough to keep his interest: “So unless it’s got a dirt road, leading down to a fishing hole, With a little piece of moonlight, a couple cans of Bud Light- where I can cuddle with my baby and I can pull her real close, I don’t wanna go, unless heaven’s got a dirt road.” In this song, Kip accurately captures one of the reasons I love country music- enjoying the simple things in life with the people you care about most. The things that he is lamenting about wanting in heaven are all good, enjoyable things- things to be enjoyed this side of heaven.
In light of these ideas, what does it truly mean to deny one’s self and follow Christ? Is the Gospel something to be weighed and measured against all the things we love in this life? Are all those who claim to follow Christ people who have simply decided going to “heaven” at the end of their life is more important than “enjoying” life here on earth? If that is the conclusion we’ve come to in light of the Gospel, then we have been following the wrong gospel. I am reminded of the C.S. Lewis quote from his book The Weight of Glory: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
If we reject the concept of “heaven” because there isn’t a dirt road or a fishing hole, then we are exactly what Lewis describes, one who is far too easily pleased. If we still see following Christ and living in light of the Gospel still something to be weighed against our own desires, then we have yet to have a true encounter with Christ Himself. For this life is not about getting a better life because of Christ, it is about getting Christ! Christ himself is like that holiday at the sea- we cannot possibly understand what that means when we are so preoccupied with the mud pies we prefer to continue making. The life Christ calls us to is so much more than a list of should and should not’s, it is a miraculous call to live in a whole new way- seeking Christ above everything else, and knowing that we are getting the best possible thing, Christ himself.
Kip clearly states “I don’t wanna go, unless heaven’s got a dirt road.” Friend, is your view of Christianity, heaven and ultimately Christ so narrow that you would side with Kip and refuse to give up certain pleasures in this life? You certainly can go on “enjoying” the things this life has to offer, but once you have had a true encounter with the overwhelming love, the infinite grace and unfathomable peace, joy, fulfillment and faithfulness of Christ you will begin to wonder how that “dirt road” ever seemed enough.