Friday, May 30, 2014

It's More Difficult Than What We Are Being Told

I know the stuff I am throwing out recently isn't the most popular stuff but it has to be said. In the days of Judah, when the enemy was at the gate, many of the false prophets were telling the king what he wanted to hear. It wasn't going to save him but it kept the prophets employed. Only a few prophets spoke the words of Yahweh and their reward was to be thrown in jail, but they would not relent with the truth. We cannot relent with the truth.

Many are preaching "Peace! Peace!" "Victory is yours!" People are sitting back and enjoying life. They are stuffing themselves, enjoying the riches of their labour. They are content because life is good. But the ax is at the root. Reality is not at all like they have been told by their spiritual guides. Those men and women are speaking to the desires of the sheep so they can stay employed. We need to be yelling the truth from the mountain tops, on the street corners, along the highways and byways. The truth? It's not as easy as we are led to believe:

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. (Luke 13:24)

"Well, Jesus did it all, didn't he?" "There is nothing I can do for my justification, only Jesus was able to do that for me on the cross." One hundred percent correct! And don't let anyone tell you differently. But it also costs us everything. To accept Jesus, to follow him, he told us:

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)

But many of us think we can have it all. We don't let go of the world when we take hold of the cross. We think we can follow Jesus and do what we want. We think we can enjoy all the pleasures of this world and the superior pleasure of fellowship with the Spirit. We have yet to understand that we too died and we no longer live:

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Are we living that as a foundational truth? We have a good handle on what Jesus has done for us but many of us are using grace as an excuse to sin, to hold back, to not give our all to Jesus. We keep emphasizing what Jesus has done for us, as we should, but we are leaving out our response to that incredible act of love..

Certainly we tell Jesus we love him in every worship song we sing, but what about the worship we live? There is so much selfishness in us that we don't have a chance to give our all. Every time we lay it out on the alter we are clawing it back. We are only living half the truth: Jesus' half. Jesus says "strive" to enter. "Deny" yourself. Deny! It doesn't do anything for our justification but everything for our relationship (sanctification). Again, Jesus says:

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. (John 14:21)

Our obedience is not trying to earn salvation but is a love response to Jesus' sacrifice. We respond to his love by desiring to obey him for the rest of our days here and every day in eternity. We desire nothing else. We gladly deny anything our flesh desires in our overwhelming desire to serve our King.

Does that describe us? Does it really describe the Church today? The Church that would rather get together to put on a show and run all our wonderful programs instead of doing what Jesus told us to do, which is go into the world and make disciples. He didn't say bring them in; he told us to go out. Kingdom building must always take priority over church building.

It's great to acknowledge the love and sacrifice of Jesus but if it doesn't transform you, turning you away from yourself with the realization you have died and it is Jesus who lives in you, then it isn't real. Yes, that's right, it isn't real. There is a reason Jesus said it is not easy to make it on the narrow way. I beg you, check your hearts.

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