“Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter.” (Matthew 7:21 NLT)
When I was a boy, like so many at Christmas time, I sang the song: “Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh…” But that’s not what I heard. For years I heard and thought the song said: “one-horse soap and sleigh.” Of course, it made no sense, but that’s what I sang because that’s what I thought it said.
We’re so often like that with the words of Jesus. For example, in Matthew 10:38-39 Jesus said: “If you refuse to take up your cross and follow Me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for Me, you will find it.”
Those can be hard words to follow, but what we too often here is: “This crumby job I have is the reason I can’t serve Jesus like I’d really like to.” Or “If I just had a better spouse/child/church/___________” and you can fill in the blank – “THEN I could be more effective for Jesus.”
We want to believe that if everything “out there” would change, then I’d have a better life and I’d feel more inclined to follow Jesus more closely. What we “hear” is all about external things, while what Jesus is saying speaks to internal things.
Taking up our “cross” speaks to our moment-by-moment decision to put Him first in everything, beginning with our own heart and mind. If all that consumes us is our circumstances, that gives evidence faster than anything else that we’re “clinging to our life.” What we’re hearing is: “When Jesus gives me better circumstances, I’ll follow Him.”
But what Jesus is saying is: “When you give Me your life, I’ll teach you to be grateful for your circumstances.” We’re hearing “See and believe.” When what the Lord is saying is “Believe and see.”
As Jesus followers we walk by faith, not by sight, because until God’s Spirit illuminates our heart and mind, we’re walking in darkness. “Worth” is never to be measured by who we are or what we’ve accomplished. It’s always and only measured by Whose we are; by who owns our heart and rules our mind.
Giving up our life is not about quitting on life and living carefree and without regard to Biblical directives, it’s about allowing Jesus to become our life. He will give direction, meaning, purpose, fulfillment to what we do, whether it’s fulfilling our responsibilities as a spouse, parent, grandparent, employee, employer, neighbor, or friend.
The point is, Jesus becomes the center of our universe. Our life revolves around Him, not ourselves. Our worth, from a Kingdom of God perspective, is measured by our willingness to surrender to Him, and to allow our lives to be governed by His Spirit every moment of every day.
Giving up our lives doesn’t mean no longer caring about what we say, think, or do. Quite to the contrary, it means caring more about those things because we see them as opportunities to exalt Jesus’ life being lived in and through us. We’ll finally discover what our life was always meant to be when loving Jesus and serving Him become the supreme mission and call of our lives.
When Jesus is our life, we’ll finally get the words right as He plays the melody of who we’re becoming in Him.
Blessings, Ed 😊