Give Up Your Life!

-Great In God’s Kingdom!

In my last post we talked about the kind of life that Jesus called great! We picked up on His conversation, with the disciples, after two of them— James & John— asked if they could sit in the seat of power, next to Jesus, in His Kingdom.  “Jesus called them over and said to them, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them.  But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many” Mark 10:42-45.  In so many words, Jesus was teaching them that if you’re great in God’s Kingdom, that this world probably won’t even notice you!

-Slave Or Servant?

Jesus calls you great when you reject the world’s leadership style (v.42). He also calls you great when your ministry is measured by the people you serve (v.43).  But, there are 2 more points I’d like to draw out, from this text, related to what Jesus calls great.  He also calls you great when you humble yourself & become the world’s slave (v.44).  We touched briefly, on this point, in our last post.  The word is “doulos” in the original Greek language; and, it can only be translated accurately as “slave” in the English. So, while the Holman version actually translates it “slave”, many translations choose to use the word “servant.” And, while they can be credited with sensitivity for choosing to translate the word as “servant” because the history of slavery, in America, is so repulsive & offensive, we probably ought not change the word Jesus used.

-The Humility Of A Slave!

He meant for us to take on the humility, of a “slave,” when it comes to our ministry & service. In this way, we actually serve like Jesus did:  “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,” the Apostle Paul wrote, “who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave” Philippians 2:5-11.  In other words, Jesus didn’t use His title— GOD— as a BIG STICK! In His incarnation, He took the form of a SLAVE!

-Suffering For Others!

Finally, from Jesus’ words here, we discern that He calls you great when you give up your life to suffer for others (v.45). Even Jesus suffered for others, willingly, all the way to the cross! He served ‘til it hurt! ‘Til it killed Him! And, you image Jesus when you live your life similarly! That’s probably not going to get you a fancy TITLE; or, the corner office in the big corporation! But, it will get you a “Well done, good & faithful servant” from Jesus! You may have noticed that the focus, in this post, was not on spiritual gifts, the reason being, that, the greater emphasis, in Scripture, is on the heart attitude toward ministry rather than giftedness or knowledge! Jesus emphasis humility over giftedness; and, the power is never said to be in our GIFTS; but, in the Holy Spirit! So, how will you respond to needs around you? I hope like Jesus did!

 

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Your Good Works Offend God!

-Because Jesus Already Did It!

Being a disciple of Jesus does not begin with something we do; but, with something Jesus already did! When Jesus went to the cross, He redeemed our relationship with the Father.  A relationship broken by our sin against Him! By Jesus’ death on the cross, He paid the penalty, for our sin, that we should have paid so that the Father would be just to grant us forgiveness, grace, mercy & love.  By Jesus sacrificial act, He made a way for the Father to actually adopt us into His family when we accept the work of His Son & His payment on our behalf.

-Don’t Disrespect Jesus’ Sacrifice!

But, Jesus’ work, on our behalf, is only effective when we quit trying to work our own way into the Father’s favor! We must accept God’s offer of salvation through Christ alone by grace alone; and, cast aside any hope that our good deeds might impress the Father.  Can you see how offensive it is to God when we try to make ourselves presentable to Him? We trample on His Son’s sacrifice when we try to impress God with our “perceived” good deeds! We spit in His face & tell Him His Son’s work on the cross wasn’t good enough; that, we need to “add” our own. What God requires of us is nothing more than humility & brokenness, along with a confession that we’re not worthy & incapable of ever becoming worthy of the salvation He offers us!

-Are You Heaven’s Citizen?

What we need is a new start; a new beginning; a new birth! “You MUST be born again,” Jesus said. He was referencing a “SPIRITUAL” birth. Your “physical” birth makes you a citizen of this world; but, only your “spiritual” birth can make you a citizen of heaven! That becomes your new identity! You’re no longer a citizen of this world; rather, Scripture calls you a “temporary resident” here! Your citizenship is heaven! And, that’s where we have to begin when we start a conversation about “spiritual growth.”

-An Identity In Christ!

You have to be sure of your identity—in Christ—before you can ever hope to mature as a disciple of Christ. That, in fact, is what Paul said happens at the moment of faith. Here’s how the Amplified Bible expands on the meaning of Paul’s words:  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, all things have become new [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

-You’re Not The Old You!

If you’re a believer—or, a disciple—of Jesus, you’re no longer that OLD you. You’ve become; and, are becoming the NEW you—the spiritually born again you! And, one day God will finish the work He began in you that day you were converted—that’s the coming day of “glorification”! Until that day, God will be at work, in you, sanctifying you. That’s a big word—SANCTIFICATION—but, break it down to it’s simplest form & it’s the process by which God makes you more like Jesus and less like you! He does that, in part, by revealing to us our sin, convincing us to forsake it, and, empowering us to actually overcome it!

 

Should A Believer Practice Political Correctness?

“PC” Defined:

“Political Correctness” or “PC” has been defined as “A term that describes language, ideas, policies and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, religious believe, disability and age-related contexts.” Taken at face value it almost seems like something we should support as followers of Jesus!

“Political Correctness” Is A Moving Target

In the “Politically Correct” world no individual or group is ever to be offended; but, it’s that word “offense” that becomes problematic because an “offense” can be very subjective. It’s based on the opinion of each individual; so, it becomes a moving target! What’s “offensive” to one person is not to another. So, the “offended” party makes all the rules in a Politically Correct world.

In the “PC World” everyone’s beliefs must be tolerated. Everyone’s faith or religion is to be equally validated. So, there can be no “absolute truth” in a Politically Correct World. Truth becomes “subjective”! But, Jesus said: “I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH & THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through ME” (John 14:6) That means Jesus is “exclusive”—He claims to be the ONLY way to God; the ONLY truth! That’s repulsive in the Politically Correct World because it “offends” every other system of faith!

Prepare Yourself

My purpose in writing this article is to prepare you for the inevitable! Taken to it’s extreme, Political Correctness will effectively censor the Church’s attempts to make disciples because that’s an “offensive” activity to some. When that happens, followers of Christ will be left with a choice—who will we offend? If our country continues the course we’re on, persecution will be the fall out; and, we need to brace ourselves! Choose you this day whom you will offend! I’ve already made my decision—when faced with the choice to offend God or man, I will choose to offend man every time!

The Anti-Political Correctness Movement

However, let me add some caution-don’t join the Anti-Political Correctness movement! I’ve noticed there’s been an “over reaction” to the philosophy of Political Correctness that is rude, crass, demeaning & not at all like Jesus! Paul wrote the believers in Ephesus to, “Speak the TRUTH in LOVE.” Don’t YOU, personally, be the “offense”! Jesus was the “friend of sinners” because He was full of “Grace AND Truth”! A casual reading of Scripture says to “guard your tongue”, “set a guard on my mouth”, “slander no one”, “avoid fighting” (Prov 15:1; 15:4; 21:23; Psalm 141:3; Titus 3:2; Colossians 4:6)

Don’t Forget Who You Are

We need to remember our “identity”—who we are! I am 1st a “citizen” of heaven; and, 2nd a “resident” of America! Our higher calling is our identity in Christ!