Lifelines November 22, 2020

The Lord endured the agonizing death of a crucifixion, spent time in a tomb and rose the third day.  All authority had been placed in His hands, and He gave directives to His small band of followers.  Go make disciples.  It did not matter who they were or where they were from.  Their history was unimportant.  Make students who will follow Me, and teach them of their responsibility to cling tenaciously to my commands.  Their life should always be decided by His guidelines.  He promised to always accompany them and sent them on their way.  Disciples making disciples. 

Has the church lost sight of her mission?  Buildings are built and programs are implemented.  Do they form committed followers of Jesus Christ?  It was once observed that preaching should feed the sheep not entertain the goats.  Discipleship is the exact opposite of worldliness, but we find methods being adopted which minimize self-denial and maximize self-indulgence.  Would the Lord recognize the people who claim to be His?  Even more importantly, will He recognize them on the last day?  Or will they hear, “I never knew you, depart from me…(Matthew 7:23)?”  Are we disciples?

Every life has those back burners.  They are for the secondary issues in our lives.  We make our own choices about what to put back there.  Seldom do we choose self.  Yet, Jesus put that at the head of the line when it came to following Him (Luke 9:23).  There are no exclusions or exceptions.  That begins with the decision to go His way rather than our own, “If anyone wishes to come after Me…” If that is what we want to do, He leads and we follow.  Self gets in the way of that and must be pushed onto the back burner.

Selfies capture the essence of our times.  People want to be in the picture, right up front.  Look at me!  The word of God teaches us to recede into the background.  We are expected to help the poor, pray passionately and regularly, and exercise spiritual self-discipline but not for human praise (Matthew 6:1-17).  God sees, hears, knows and rewards.  That is enough.

Following the pathway of Jesus always involves a cross.  It is individual and awaits us every single day.  No two crosses are exactly alike, and we choose to pick it up.  We think of our cross as burdens, and that may be a part of it, but the cross is an instrument of death through which we are crucified to the world and the world to us (Galatians 6:14).  The cross changed everything in our decision making. Discipleship is not an easy road.  We are perpetually bombarded with what seems to be attractive options.  Self-fulfillment and gratification are promised by a culture that is under the influence of the evil one.  He used the same deception in the Garden of Eden, and we see how that turned out.