Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Obey and Teach

Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Therefore, I teach you the statutes and decrees as the LORD, my God, has commanded me, that you may observe them in the land you are entering to occupy. Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations.  Deuteronomy 4:5-6

But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
for I am gracious and merciful.

Consider the bars that the Lord sets for us to scale. Obey and Teach. 

Is that target too high?  There are no ten commandments chiseled in stone and brought down from a mountaintop.  In the place of the commandments, there are two simple requests. Even if we drill into the second one, the hardest condition of discipleship that Jesus makes that is this in Luke 9:23: Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Note well that Jesus does not ask us to pick up his cross.  He does not ask us to pick up the cross of someone else.  He only asks us to pick up OUR OWN cross. Jesus did not even ask Simon of Cyrene to help on Good Friday.  Simon was pressed into service by the Roman guards. 

When Jesus asks us to be with him and help him to gather souls, it is in this context.  He asks us to be willing to “die to self” in order to follow Him.  He is NOT asking us to suffer the same kind of physical, humiliating death he endures. 

The warning that Luke writes is that is we do not listen, if we do not walk, then the Word is banished from our speech.  The Word will always be there…it just will not be shared with us.

Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily, giving up your hopes, dreams, possessions, even your very life if need be for the cause of Christ. Jesus does not say the work is easy or that the price is low.  He only promises that it will be worth the price (The flip side of this is that Jesus promises prosperity, wisdom and intelligence to those who are willing to take up their cross).

What is your cross? 

Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly; our true commitment to Him is revealed when the proverbial “going gets rough.”  Jesus assured us that trials will come. Discipleship demands sacrifice, and Jesus never hid that cost.[ii]

If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross, consider these questions:

Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends?
Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your family?
Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?

Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen to you.  However, some version of these may happen to you if you willing to take up your cross. If there comes a point in your life where you are faced with a choice—Jesus or the comforts of this life—which will you choose?

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