Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The Red Letters

Sometimes I want to take offense at Jesus' words when I read them in the gospels. They seem to demand all, and maybe I only want to give some. His words shake me out of spiritual complacency and the comfortable status quo of my life.

"Take up your cross and follow me... Lose your life for my sake, to find life." It is there in Matthew 16 in red letters and the words present a challenge. I shrink back from what it will mean in the practicalities of my day to day life. What will I have to give up; what will I be required to do that will mean denying myself and my own desires?

Jesus doesn't just want a piece of my heart, and the part of my life I am willing to surrender. He doesn't just want a part of my mind, a section of my soul, and a portion of my strength given to his service. He wants all and not just at the times that are convenient for me to offer it. 

In his comprehensive demands, Jesus wants me to count the cost of being his disciple. I sometimes wonder how I would hold up under persecution or whether I would have followed Jesus, if I lived in his day, or would I have taken offense at one or another of his sayings. In this country, I am free to be as devoted to Christ as I want, but so many around the world are persecuted for their faith.

The rewards of discipleship actually far outweigh the cost: salvation, deliverance from past futile patterns of thinking, peace, joy, rest, forgiveness, unconditional love, and eternal life. But making Jesus Lord of your life means yielding to him in your daily decisions and renewing your mind on an ongoing basis. The process can get a little messy and decidedly uncomfortable. 

I want to be the master of my own destiny, the captain of my own soul. Jesus offers an alternative way where I make him the Master and then have him gradually remodel my life to make it according to his design. Since he is an expert craftsman, his work will make something beautiful out of what seemed marred and ugly. I need to trust him with all the broken pieces and believe that he holds the keys to a life that may not be comfortable, but will be rewarding and ultimately life-giving.

Mike and Linda canoeing out on the lake near our rental cottage this summer.

This canoe was barely sea-worthy, but the view out to the lake was lovely. 

I don't recall what was so funny.

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