Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lord Of All


My 9-year old daughter came up to me the other day and said “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a jour-ken-vet”. Naturally, my question was “WHAT is that?” She rolled her big green eyes and said, “It’s a journalist, who runs a kennel, and is a veterinarian.” She had it all worked out! She would be a veterinarian all day, take care of animals in the kennel after work, and write late at night like her mom.

At 9 years old, her ideas for her future change often. Once she found out that veterinarians also have to amputate the legs of crippled pets, put dogs to sleep when they’re beyond repair, and some other things she didn’t like, she decided she didn’t have what it takes to be a veterinarian.

As Christians we often start out excited about becoming a disciple of Jesus, just like my daughter was excited about becoming a veterinarian. But when we see what it takes, often our flaming torch for Christ becomes a flickering candle.

In Luke 14, we find three verses that share a common thread. They show the one requirement for being a true follower of Christ: you must be willing to lay everything at His feet and follow Him.

Verse 26: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.

Throughout foreign nations we hear of the price new Christians face amount their families. In Muslim countries, there are those who are extricated from their families because they have believed in Jesus. Their families declare them as good as dead! They are no longer welcome to visit. They have no “safety net” in their family should things go wrong in their lives.

Even within Christian families a disciple can have their ability to serve Christ diluted. In Mark 6:4 Jesus said “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Those who know you best are often the hardest to convince that you have shed your old life for the life of Christ. Their relationship with the old you causes their vision of the new you to be blurred. They wait, even subconsciously, for you to fail so they can prove to themselves that you haven’t changed.

Verse 27: And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Persecution of Christians happens to a far greater sense in foreign lands, but even in the United States becoming a Christian can mean losing your friends and being ridiculed. The media has done a fine job of selling the idea that Christians are weak minded white flag wavers who believe in the things of their imagination. This type of stereotyping gives new believers a very heavy cross to bear. By simply believing what they truly believe in our “freedom of religion” nation, they are persecuted. The label of “believer” often bears the insignia of naivete and immaturity. Sometimes our hearts will be broken to find that our friends don’t want to be associated with us because of the life we must live. It has even ended careers as we are labeled as “Jesus Freaks”.

Verse 33: In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

When Jesus instructed his disciples in Matthew 10:10 to go and preach the good news he told them to “take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics”. Jesus knew that if they left everything behind they would be completely dependent upon God. Many of us want to hold onto God with our right hand, and hold onto our money and material wealth with the left. The Bible says in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (money).” Trying to worship God without being willing to give him all your wealth and worldly goods is an attempt of futility.

The rich young ruler in Matthew 21:6-22 approached Jesus and asked “Master, what must I do to be saved?” From the verses that follow we see that this young man was definitely a good person. He followed all the rules of being a Christian. But when Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”, the young man went away sad. Why? Because he had great possessions, and those possessions were very dear to him.

How sad that some of us also give up the very best in life, a life with Christ, for the very worst in life, that which will rot and decay. Mark 9:47 tells us that if your eye causes you to sin, you should get rid of it because entering Heaven with only one eye is much better than entering Hell with two. Likewise, would it not be better to enter Heaven with no material gain on earth, than to enter Hell with billions of dollars of wealth accumulated?

In short, if Jesus is not Lord of everything, then Jesus is not Lord of anything. Make Him your Lord. Let him be Lord of All.

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