Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 14 - Who Am I?

“But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.  The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
 Luke 6:49 (NIV)

            “It comes down to this . . . do you believe that Jesus is who he says he is?”  This is undoubtedly a question with profound implications that should, if answered affirmatively, transform the very fabric of a Christian’s life on this earth.  This question was directed to me recently during a conversation about what it means to follow Jesus.  Deirdre, my sister and I were debating the story of The Rich Young Man (Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31) and Jesus’ admonishment that “… it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  When I questioned whether following Jesus required such a radical act (selling all material possessions), my sister’s response struck me right between the eyes: “He was willing to die for my sins, so who am I to say no!” 
            In his book, The Hole in Our Gospel, Richard Stearns, the CEO of World Vision, writes the following: “… [I]f Christ is God, it changes everything – there is nothing more important, more authoritative, or more central to the human race, to the way we live our lives, and to our very understanding of the world.  Christ is an all-or-nothing proposition, and one way or another, every one of us has already made a choice about Him.  We have either committed our lives to Him wholeheartedly, or we have not.”  If these words fail to convict you, here are a couple passages from Luke:

Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24 (NIV)

“Jesus replied, ‘no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:62 (NIV)

            In light of all of this, would I be willing to surrender everything?  If I’m honest, I want to follow Jesus on my own terms (nothing too far out of the comfort zone) – and I suspect I’m not alone here.  We’ve all been conditioned, from a very young age, to pursue the things of this world: success, prosperity, material comfort - the so-called “American Dream.”  At least for me, striking a balance between these contradictory pursuits – one foot in the world while the other is in the Word - has proven extremely difficult (maybe because it’s impossible).  The danger that we need to be wary of is allowing worldly things - our possessions, our careers, our busy lives - to define us, and worse yet, to distort our true identity and purpose.  We need to be ever cognizant of this eternal threat as we attempt to shift our thoughts and actions to Jesus' mission for our lives.

What idols in your life are preventing you from following Jesus?  How can you take steps to eliminate them?  What if following Jesus required you to walk away from everything that you consider familiar and safe, or to surrender everything?

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