Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Cost of Discipleship

Personal Renewal through Surrender

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Acts 1:8

The Way to the Cross, Part 2

Our selfish, human nature is such a difficult thing to change (or ‘allow to be changed’ may be a better way to state it). Our humanity – that part which the Apostle Paul calls ‘the flesh’ or the ‘sinful nature’ - so many times keeps us from experiencing all that the Father has for us, including the most important thing: His abiding presence in our lives. There are certain attitudes that Jesus spoke of which are non-negotiable for His disciples. Let’s look at a couple of these from the New Living Translation of the Bible: Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5); “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:12-13, 16-17)

What is this ‘fruit’ Jesus speaks of? I believe that Paul gives us insight in Galatians 5: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

What about the ‘love’ Jesus talks about? Again, let’s read the Apostle Paul’s words on love in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Contrary to popular culture, the above passage wasn’t written for weddings…it was a directive from Paul to the church in Corinth. It is a description of how the Redeemed should and must live in relationship to each other. And it is not ‘optional.’ As Jesus said in John 15, “If you love me, you will obey my commands….this is my command: love each other.

Now you’re probably thinking, “but…but…but,” because that’s what we tend to do. We make excuses and place ourselves above Christ by allowing thoughts to rule our minds that subvert His authority. Thoughts like, “But He couldn’t have meant me to endure this situation, or forgive this person;” or “Surely He doesn’t expect me to do that.” Actually, Jesus expects us to follow Him in all circumstances, and be totally devoted to His cause: Kingdom living. After all, the part of the reason that He suffered, died, rose again, and sent His Holy Spirit was so that ‘we would receive power.’ More next week!

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