There’s one thing we can give to Jesus that no-one else can give, and it’s the one thing that most of us struggle with regularly in our frantic, time-starved, device driven, non-stop lives. We tend to be very selfish with it and can find many ways to justify keeping it to ourselves. Our time. As Christians, we are known to say “I have given my life to Jesus.” We may have even sung lyrics like “All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him I freely give . . . I surrender all.” That’s a mouthful of “all,” isn’t it? I acknowledge that hyperbole has its place in speech, but when it comes to matters of faith, perhaps our declarations should be a bit more modest, more measured, more truthful. Otherwise, we just might speak ourselves into believing something that doesn’t resemble reality.
Last week’s message raised the point of whether Jesus is worth suffering or dying for. Roles reversed, He did consider you and me worth giving His life. Regardless of our threshold for pain, most of us gratefully will never come close to truly suffering for Jesus let alone dying for Him. Five times the Apostle Paul received 39 excruciating, flesh ripping lashes. He was beaten with rods 3 times and once was stoned and left for dead. Hebrews 11 lists men and women of faith who suffered and died honoring their faith. Peter and several apostles were jailed and flogged for proclaiming Christ and actually rejoiced for being counted “worthy” to suffer for the name of Jesus. (Acts 5:41) (Don’t overlook the quality of heart which led them to “rejoice.” Available “time” was not their primary concern.)
Maybe the question worth considering should be “is Jesus worth living for?” Though living for Jesus could culminate in dying for Him, Jesus calls us to live for Him . . . but not without cost. Jesus knew that for all committed followers there would be some price to pay, some degree of sacrifice or suffering. That’s why He told disciples in Luke 9 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Let’s look at that. First, Jesus is speaking to His followers then and now, to you and me. When He clearly states that sacrifice and self-denial are part of our allegiance, He gives notice that we must be willing to put others’ needs ahead of our own. Now, what about the “cross”? It’s an instrument of death, isn’t it? In giving ourselves, there must be a degree or sense of death to self, our self-interests, our priorities, and it can be an uncomfortable if not painful experience to endure, especially daily as Jesus expresses it.
Sincerely desiring to be much more a realist than a legalist, I think it’s a fair assumption that our King expects His servants to serve Him to advance the purposes of His kingdom. Luke 17:7 is an example of this, and as North Americans we may find this perspective a bit of a reach. This teaching encompasses both our position in Christ as servants to a Master and also our motivation in serving. Certainly our Master appreciates our acts of service, but He also expects His servants to serve as long as he gives them breath. If our mindset is “If I do this, God will give me that,” we miss the essence of His grace. If you struggle with a willingness to submit yourself and take initiatives to seek avenues in which you may serve God, this obstacle is your “cross.” Crosses come in many forms, some of which are rebellion, fear, lack of confidence, fatigue, guilt, priorities. Our God, our Master has the ability and desire to lift your cross from you. Would you consider spending time with Him to discuss it? Think About It.