Monday, August 30, 2010

No Part-timers Here!

Serving Jesus Christ is not as simple as we make it out to be. Perhaps that is worded incorrectly. It is a simple matter to serve Jesus Christ but it requires a greater depth and dedication than most people are aware of at first. Unfortunately some followers never discover the depth to which we must go, having fallen asleep on the surface of the relationship. As we continue with our reading of Matthew we come across three zingers in a row from Jesus that explain the level of dedication God demands from his children. Dedication and loyalty is something that every relationship demands, whether it is employer and employee, friends, husband and wife, parents and children. If every relationship demands this then how much more the most important relationship in our lives?

Jesus teaches:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

At first this could look like Jesus pointing out that there is nothing in this world that is so stable that it can become our security. In this place of instability, change is a constant. Here nothing stands still, it is rusting, eroding, withering, rotting or being eaten. Only the things of heaven, the things of God have any permanency and so this is where we should be investing ourselves. This is part of what Jesus is saying but the important part is the last line. The Father requires our love and dedication but if we are distracted by the trinkets of this world, it means he does not have our full attention. In some ways he is speaking as a lover. We may be married to our lover but if our heart is occupied with someone else then that person has our love and dedication. Our Father wants all of us, our full attention, love and dedication.

Jesus teaches:

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23) 

The first was about the heart and the second about the eye. What has our attention? What is it that we are watching and looking at? Are they the good things, the things of heaven, the things that honour our God and reflect his glory, man's attempt to glorify their maker? Or are they things that oppose God, that come against his purity, love and holiness? Are they things to entertain and distract us while polluting our hearts against God? Are they things that weaken and separate us from God's love for us? This is one of the greatest dangers we face every day yet it is the danger we pay attention to the least. It is the same as a wife, on the arm of her husband, having her head turned by a passing handsome man. What is she allowing to enter her mind and her heart? Is it something that honours her husband or does it cause a wedge in their relationship? God wants our full attention. He deserves our full attention.

Jesus teaches:

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:24)

Since the dawn of time man has desired wealth and in this age we have devised a multitude of methods to obtain that wealth. The best way is to work for it but for some people that method is too slow. We have devised ways of investing money. Instead of working for it we take what money we have and we gamble on a person or a company to do well, earning us more money without doing a thing. We hear a lot in the news these days of people losing their entire savings to some person who failed to invest it and spent it on themselves. If investing is too complicated there is always gambling, lottery tickets or any of the casinos that are popping up all over the place. Such a great desire for money causes us to focus our attention on it instead of on God. For some people money takes the place of God, it changes our sense of values, priorities and purpose in life. If you want to see the true character of a person, give them a pile of money and see what happens.

The fact is, God is not willing to share us with anyone or anything. We are the objects of his affection and he desires to be ours. It is simple to follow Jesus but it requires 100% of our hearts. Obedience is simple when it is based on dedicated love, but when that love must be shared with treasures, distractions and money, it becomes a watered down thing and our God desires and deserves more than that. He wants our all, he deserves our all, we need to give him our all. There is no such thing as a part-time lover, nor a part-time worshiper, nor a part-time child. 

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