Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ayn Rand and Jesus

I once read a famous novel called Atlas Shrugged, which at its core has nothing to do with Jesus. The author's basic philosophy (I'm majorly summarizing here, I hope no Ayn Rand fans take offense :) is that people should pursue what they want— what makes them happy— above all else, and if everyone does that, everyone will be happy. It’s a pretty…Capitalistic idea, but in some ways it reminds me of Jesus. I’ll explain.

In her book she talks about sacrifice. She says a sacrifice is giving something up for no gain in return. A person who gives up his hard earned meal to the homeless beggar simply because he feels that he “should” doesn’t really gain much. He loses a meal but what does he lose it for? He loses it for a sense of guilt or obligation.

A woman who gives up her hard earned meal for her child that she dearly loves, however, does not sacrifice (according to Rand). This woman loses a meal but for the satisfaction of knowing that her child is cared for— she gains the reward of joy because she cares more for her child than for that meal. The point here is NOT that helping beggars or “strangers” is meaningless or helping your own family is self-serving…the point Rand makes is that when we give something up for something we want more, we aren’t really sacrificing— we’re gaining.

Now, Ayn Rand would probably be rolling over in her grave right now if she knew that Jesus was teaching me through her teachings. But He is J The reason my blog is titled “No Sacrifice” is this:

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who found a great treasure hidden in a field. In his joy he went and sold all he had in order to buy that field”. Matthew 13:44

When I truly come into contact with the living God, when my eyes are opened enough to see just a glimpse of His goodness and beauty, I can’t help but see His worth. I can’t help but find Him worthy of pursuing over all else, of “selling all that I have” in order to have Him— the true Treasure. This, I believe, is at the heart of life with Christ. When He bids us to follow Him I don’t think He’s hoping to guilt us into doing it, or trying to convince us why we “should”. If that were the case He wouldn’t have tried to literally talk people out of following Him in the Gospels! I believe that his message was rather, “taste and see that the Lord is good”….”and in your joy, choose Me. Choose me because you want Me more than anything else”.

When you fall in love with someone, you don’t talk to him because you feel that you “should”. You don’t necessarily sell all you have in order to talk to them either…but the feeling you have is “I want to talk to this person so badly that I don’t mind losing sleep, or getting behind on homework, or driving six hours to visit with,” etc. etc. etc. It’s the realization that you want him or her more than those other things, so it’s really not a sacrifice. You are gaining by being with that person, even at the expense of extra sleep or study time J How much sweeter and more satisfying, then, must be intimacy with the living God— the One who came for us and continues to come for us— more than sleep, or money, or comfort…or even that hard earned meal.

Your thoughts are higher than mine
Your words are deeper than mine
Your love is stronger than mine…

This is no sacrifice. Here’s my life.


the hannahs said...

Hannah, thank you for sharing this. These are beautiful thoughts that really make me think twice about what it means to not just love Jesus, but to fall in love with Him, and to be in love with Him, if that makes sense... Please keep writing because I will read :]

Hannah G.

jbaskin25 said...

Hannah, what did you think about the Christianity Today's article said about Ayn Rand's philosophy on American Society?

Megan said...

Did you ever read Desiring God by John Piper? This is the central message of it... he calls it "Christian hedonism". Also C.S. Lewis says that our problem is that we are too easily satisfied; we settle for mediocre pleasures without seeking the greatest joy found in God!

not a slave said...

take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. all that i am and all that i possess You have given me: i surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. give me only Your love and Your grace; with these i will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more.

~ st. ignatius

Firebird said...

"What is morality? Judgment to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, courage to act on it, dedication to that which is good, integrity to stand by the good at any price." ~Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

...just being a nerd, ya know