Monday, 25 January 2016

Truly Obeying and Loving Jesus means to Absolutely, Totally, Unconditionally and Unreservedly Give Up all One has and One's very Self

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me (Matthew 10:38).

Many in the modern Church simply think that to do righteous and good works is to love Jesus. As long as they read their Bibles, go to a Biblical church, give money to their church, pray, hold onto correct doctrine and practice it, and love and care their family, they are being righteous.  It is true one must practice righteousness to rightly claim that one loves Jesus. As Jesus said: "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me" (John 14:23-24). The question is, do you really and truly keep ALL of His Words, in absolute, total obedience to Him? This is a question every person who claims to be a follower of Christ must ask himself or herself. 

Jesus said regarding what it truly means to follow Him, "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:38). Throughout the Gospels, Jesus makes it clear what it means:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24).

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27).

It is all too easy for one to think that one is righteous by doing all good works, whether it is by giving money to one's church, volunteering for a campus ministry, being active in serving one's church, reading the Bible and praying. It is all too easy and too natural. A person can do all these things but still completely miss the whole point of what true righteousness and obedience to Christ is. True righteousness is total, absolute, unconditional and unreserved submission to Christ and Christ alone. It is true wholehearted submission to Christ that is true righteousness, as opposed to the doing to good works which one does to make oneself righteous, which is yet, however, seeking to hold back part of oneself or what one has from Christ. 

To totally, absolutely, unconditionally and unreservedly submit to Christ and Christ alone is to not only totally, absolutely, unconditionally and unreservedly give up what one has, but  also the very core of one's being to Christ. It is to totally reject in one's mind the earthly, self-centred, idea of the flesh that if one is righteous, God must reward one in return, or that He is somewhat bound to do so. It is to totally die to oneself, as indicated by the phrase 'bear his cross' (Luke 14:27). 

The meaning of the phrase 'bear his cross' was absolutely shocking, radical and frightening to Jesus' original hearers. It is truly a frightening truth which all people should tremble with fear when hearing it. When a condemned criminal during the time of Jesus was declared guilty of a crime, he was to not only die, but die a torturous, painful, excruciatingly slow death. Indeed, the word 'excruciating' comes from the word 'crucifix'. He was to carry the crucifix he was to be impaled on from the judgment seat where he was condemned, all the way to the execution site. By carrying his own crucifix on which he was to die, he was saying that he agreed with the judge's condemnation of his guilt, and that he totally and absolutely submitted to the authority of Rome, the state who condemned the criminal. He had not right to appeal the guilty verdict, no right to complain or review the judgment, and no right to live - absolutely no right to his life or any possessions he had. 

Therefore, what Jesus meant when he said that a person must bear his cross to be His disciple is not only acknowledge that he is to justly die because God has said so. It is much more than that. It is to fully acknowledge in all one's mind, heart and soul that all the he has, and indeed his very life does not belong to him at all, but belongs to Christ. He must absolutely renounce all his has and his very life itself. If not, he cannot be a true disciple of Christ.

To obey Christ is not about doing things, including good and righteous things such as having sound theology, serving one's church, praying and reading the Bible daily. These things are crucial to one's journey of faith. However, as long as one does not absolutely and totally die to self, that is, to totally give up all of what one has, and one's very life for Christ. Jesus made it clear that one must totally renounce not only material things, but earthly relationships with loved ones, and also one's very life itself: If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26). What it means is not to literally hate one's own father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters. Rather, it means to have such a great love for Christ that one's love for these categories of people, looks like hatred in comparison. It is to love Christ so much that one is prepared to sacrifice such relationships, to follow Christ and Christ alone. 

True righteousness to Christ to submission to Christ in absolutely all things, in all times, regardless of the circumstances, hating even the very thought of expecting something from Him in return. It is to acknowledge that Christ is to be submitted to unconditionally, and absolutely in all things, even if it meant going to Hell, for one acknowledges that only Christ and Christ alone has the right to demand how one is to live. It is to do what Jesus says, no matter what, without question. There are no reservations, or conditions for obeying all of His teachings whatsoever. It is to totally, absolutely, unconditionally and unreservedly accept His Lordship over oneself, that He owns all you have and your very life, and that you do not own anything at all, not what you have, or your very life. That is what it truly means to die to self.