2000-08-17 - Don't Follow Me
Luke 9:22-23 And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (NAS)
I recently had someone pronouncing just how wonderful I was and how they wished they could be like me. That thought scared me more than words can say. I thanked the person who wrote and assured them that they would be far better off following Jesus than me. I stopped for a minute and thought about the real me. The one that only Jesus truly knows. I myself and a few very close friends are aware of a few of my weaknesses and times that I have fallen hard. While they have cared for me and picked me up and dusted me off, cleaning out the cuts and scrapes - and never showing a shadow of deserting me - it does not change the fact that I had sinned against God and needed forgiveness just like anyone else.
I have been given glimpses over the edge of the cliff that is the boiling, seething pit that is my wicked old heart. The longer I am a Christian, the more and more I know just how dependent I am on Jesus for my very next minute. The more I know of my own depravity, the more grateful I am for His salvation and all that He has done for me.
Ps 37:4-6 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. (KJV)
This is an amazing promise. God has so many good things in store for us, in this life and the next. But they are not always what we think they will be. The streets of Heaven are paved with gold, so the extreme hoarding of wealth becomes less and less important. We will walk those streets and fly through the air to meet Jesus at His return, so fast cars and things become less of a passion. I have spoken with men and women who have been Christians for many decades and they have a sense of the things of this world fading from their view. The point is that the desires of their hearts have been changed as they have become more and more conformed to the image of their Savior and Lord.
A little boy asked his sister if God could be seen. She said no, that God lived inside us and we can't see our insides. This seemed logical to the boy. But he asked his mom just to be sure. She explained that God is a spirit, and that He is all around us and inside us - but we can't see Him. We have to trust Him, knowing that He is there. This sounded even better. While sitting out on a hillside with his grandfather, he asked the same question. Without taking his eyes off the brilliant fall colors bathed in the light of sunset he said, "Sometimes, He is all that I can see." The view of God changed at every step along the way as the process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
Luke 9:25 "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? (NAS)
The desires of my heart are toward my friends and my children and my wife more and more. This time that I am permitted to share the things on my heart, even when difficult, is very special. These things are becoming my treasure that will be stored up in Heaven where moth and rust will never touch them. There is no amount of wealth that will build a bridge to God, no human logic, no human goodness or political power or ability to debate that will gain entry to God's eternity. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." He is the open door, the road home and the lamp that lights our path. He is the singular way.
If anyone has the misguided perception that I am anyone special, I will gladly correct that misunderstanding. I am a sinner, saved by the matchless grace and mercy of a loving and forgiving God. If you want to follow me, I will point you to the Jesus that gave His life for me, and I will walk beside you. If you don't know this Jesus and think that God is a big "thou shalt not" in the sky, I will show you the cross where God willingly gave His only Son to die in your place and mine to save us. If that does not rattle you to the core, stop and think about it. Everything that can be done to reach you has been done. If that is not enough, look into your heart honestly and see the pain and trouble there. When you realize that there is no way to be good enough, reaching out with a little faith becomes more real.
Lord Jesus, thank You for everything that You have done - for the many amazing changes in my life that You have worked to make happen in my heart and life. And though I am not perfect, You never give up on me and trust that I will be perfected one day. Thank You for walking out front, for taking the lead and always being there leading as I follow. Amen.
Grace & Peace,