Monday, August 15, 2011

A One Side Marriage

Imagine your wedding day. You have just made your side of the vows. You have vowed to stay with your spouse in sickness or in health, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, and forsaking all others till death do you part.

Then your soon to be spouse whispers to the the minister and says, "You know, I have made some modifications to the vows and would like to read them myself." Your heart races with excitement as your significant other begins to say their vows to you. "I promise to take you in health only, for better only, in riches only, and I will most likely not forsake all others till whenever we part." Can you imagine the look on your face? Would you go forward with the marriage?

There are plenty of Bible passages that illustrate this is how God feels by the actions of His people. Check out the book of Hosea (3:1-2) as an example.

Now, this post may seem to contradict my last doesn't. We are saved by grace through faith alone and we stand in grace as Christians, but does God not want us to live for Him? How do our actions fit into the Christian life? I wrestled through these thoughts in preparation to preach on Luke 9:57-62. You can listen to the message by clicking here.

I find it funny when Jesus challenges American Christianity as we know it. Seems, He sets the bar, not vice versa. MacArthur suggests this passage reveals three areas that hold people back from following after Him--1) personal comfort, 2) personal riches, and 3) personal relationships. I think these three point adequately outline the message of this passage. What does the text say and how do we struggle with each.

Personal Comfort - Luke 9:57-58
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
I wonder how those who preach a prosperity gospel on television can keep a straight face. The promises they make to people practically exclude Jesus from their club.

The lesson I learn from this man is I do not come to Jesus as my personal butler that has the job of making my life comfortable. I come to Him as Savior and Lord over all. He has saved me from my sin and I serve at His pleasure.

Personal Riches? - Luke 9:59-60
And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
This one offers to possibilities of interpretation. I will explore both.

The dad is dead. People don't like this one because it makes Jesus words sound very harsh. But if this is the case, let's step back and examine human history. Whether or not you trust in Christ for salvation, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are the number one event in human history, yet this guy opts out. The lesson is simple. Follow and serve God now, don't make promises for all you will do...later.

The dad is not dead, but the son doesn't want to displease his father and be cut out of the family business and ultimately lose his inheritance. In this case, Jesus is stressing the point that He is our ultimate provider. He will provide for you...too often we place our trust in God second to things like our 401k, IRA, or our inheritance.

Personal Relationships - Luke 9:61-62
Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Letting personal relationships hinder your following Jesus. The thought of loosing face or relationship with friends and family is a terrifying thing. I know that following Jesus seriously has closed the door on some close relationships of mine over the years. Early on I felt a tug-o-war in my heart trying to live two lives (one for Jesus and the other for my friends). These worlds eventually collided and I had to choose one...I chose Christ and haven't looked back.

Last week I caught myself struggling with this one. This may seem stupid, but I think it identifies this problem at its core. During worship my heart's desire was to raise my hands in surrender to the Lord, but I resisted because my tattoos might show and thought, "What would people think?" Ah, there it is..I should care about what God thinks. Who cares what people think...and they don't even care!

So What?

The bottom line is I want to be loyal to God. Fully sold out with nothing holding me back. Lord, I am yours. Help me to live for you with all of me!

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