“Then He said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NLT)
It’s interesting to me that during Jesus’ earthly ministry He couldn’t go into villages or towns because there were too many people who wanted to see Him. Those who were sick, demon-possessed, or bringing sick people comprised such a large group that Jesus and His disciples had to stay in more remote places. Yet, after His crucifixion, where did all those people go? Did people no longer need Him?
In Acts chapter 1 it says, in reference to the eleven Disciples: “They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.” It’s commonly believed that there were 120 believers who were meeting together on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given, but in fact, we don’t know the exact number. All we know for sure is that there weren’t thousands, like the crowds who followed Jesus before His death. Why was that?
On any given weekend, other than Christmas, Easter or Mother’s Day, the church I attend will range in attendance somewhere between 3,000-4,000 including children, youth, volunteers, etc. But at a recent prayer gathering we only had a few hundred. I want to be careful and not read too much into that, so what’s my point?
It’s very easy to create a mindset where Jesus = church; thus, our worship attendance, volunteer service, giving money, and other church related activities = our relationship with Jesus. There’s little or no thought given as to how the Spirit enables us to live moment by moment in His presence or equips us to be available for Christ’s service 24/7. It’s more of a contract than a commitment.
In other words, we want Jesus on our terms, not His. We’ll serve, give money, raise our hands, and be energized by the moving music and Bible-based messages (if we’re VERY fortunate), but our time is still just that – OUR time! OUR money! OUR schedule! OUR life!
There’s a very subtle process Satan uses to move us into ineffectiveness as a believer. Ron Hutchcraft wrote in a recent devotional: “There are a lot of people who walk into church Sunday after Sunday, looking all Christian but without Jesus. And they walk out the same way they came in, without Jesus, because they’re only going through the motions. It’s all too easy to do. You go through all the motions of belonging to Him, believing all the right beliefs, doing all the right things, saying all the right words like a person who knows Jesus for real. But you’re missing Him.”
The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 139:23: “Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” God alone knows our heart. He alone can do a thorough and correct evaluation of what’s there.
Jesus reminds us in Matthew 7:22-23: “On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’”
The bottom line is this: It doesn’t matter how good we think we are or how much we know God loves us, it’s only how Jesus sees us and what HE thinks of us. His judgment is final and is all that matters when we stand before Him. If your love for Him doesn’t extend to your obedience to Him and your fruitfulness for Him, you may need to rethink who’s really ruling your life.
Blessings, Ed 😊
2 thoughts on “Contract or Commitment?”
Ed, thank you for your share. These words can be sobering, challenging and reflective, perhaps offensive, but ever so true and needed for each and every one of us to set before our Father and Savior and let the Holy Spirit reveal our hearts and the posture of that in call of our obedience to Him. Thank you for your sharing, boldly.
Thank you, brother, for your thoughts. I believe you’ll understand when I tell you, I only write what the Lord gives me. To Him be all glory, honor, and praise. My goal isn’t to offend, but, as you say, some things our Lord said were offensive to those who weren’t walking closely with Him. He’s coming soon, so if He can use us in these last days to point someone to Him, and it takes being challenged, so be it. Blessings.