Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mark 1:16-20: We, too, Can Abandon our Worldly Nets and Follow Jesus Christ.

Mark 1:16-20

Simon, Andrew, James, and John immediately give up their livelihood as fishermen to follow Jesus. They are expert fishermen and now employ their talents as evangelizers for Jesus by becoming fishers of men. The apostles unhesitatingly give up everything, family and trade, to follow Jesus and serve.

Although Jesus does not call us to abandon our families and careers, He does call us to serve each in His name. What does this look like?

All personal focus on "things for me" have no meaning outside of Jesus Christ. Any self-aggrandizing is meaningless, therefore, and requires abandonment. Living a life in Christ has no place for "me" as the primary focus.  Service in Christ is about loving God and neighbor. Even my duties as a husband and father are meaningless outside of my primary love for and relationship with God. Jesus Christ is my Savior, and all love, gifts and talents spring from His eternal well.  The gift of family, for instance, comes from God, and I am to be His servant in all duties as a loving husband and father.

Living a life of service is offering the first fruits of God's gifts on His altar; we offer our whole selves, turning those gifts given back to God, as a sincere, loving devotion to the Trinity in our hearts and an expression of that love in our acts.

In this, I must try my best to be Christ in everything I do. Even though I frequently fail, as the apostles did, through repentance, Jesus lovingly forgives and guides me to His heart.

Much like these fishermen, I too, must lay down my nets of the world and take up the nets of Christ, working from His boat, not mine. As I cast Jesus's nets, I am giving Him my total self and service in love. And as imperfect as I am, He leads me to a new, ever-evolving relationship as His servant.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Allowing God to Work in Us

"On the contrary, it is precisely because we cannot forgive or improve ourselves that we need [Jesus Christ] to come to us. But we must be willing for him to do whatever rearranging he likes when he has come in."  ~ from Basic Christianity by John Stott
Comment: We have to be empty of self-rule and turn ourselves over to "Christ-rule." Once we let Jesus into our hearts, though, we cannot just sit back and say we have arrived. We must cooperate with his grace. And cooperation entails the cross, sacrifice, and repentance.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Encouraging Others in Christ

1 Thessalonians 3:7
"For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith."

Last Monday after the snow, I observed my neighbor walking around to people who were shoveling their walks; he was lending them some help.  As I was cleaning cars and shoveling my own driveway and walk, I thought the following two things:

1. I can see this offer of self as an annoyance.  Why should I help the neighbors when I have enough to do here? He is setting precedent for me and making me look bad. 

  • This view is full of egotism and reeks of temptation; notice the emphasized personal pronouns "I" and "me."
2. I can see my neighbor's small act of loving service as a testament to faith and how God uses the ordinary person to channel His grace. This act of sacrifice models how I need to put others before me.  Additionally, my neighbor's witness, whether he was aware of it or not, is infectious and makes me want to do something for someone else. For the rest of the day, I think about my neighbor's witness and pray that God uses me in a similar way. 

  • This view focuses on God first, neighbor second, and me last. It is how Christ modeled true discipleship, and although I know I more often miss the mark, it is how I want to live. 
Paul is talking about the same thing in this verse.  Our living acts of faith encourage others.