“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce
all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
Wealth. Health. Family. Friends. Career. Hobby. Addiction. Time. Freedom.
Yesterday, I wrote about making the best use of our time. It is one of many things that can fit under the category of treasures in heaven. It can also be a treasure of this earth. It’s what we choose to do with our gifts that demonstrates our true focus.
I remember as a kid hearing stories in Catechism about the disciples dropping and leaving everything when Jesus walked by. Jesus said, “Come, follow me,” and they did. They left it all. Just like that. I remember the priest saying it was like that with the priesthood. Jesus would “call” you, and you would go. He made it sound like this was a good thing. I wasn’t buying into that even one little bit. In fact, the whole idea terrified me. What if Jesus asked me? What if I told him, “No”?
There did come a day in college when he DID as me, point blank, and I , in fact, turned him down. Truth be told, I was saying, “No,” for a long time in many ways. Then one day, 20-some years later, I finally said, “Yes.”
Free will is an interesting thing. Some say everything we do, both good and bad, is based upon our free will. In fact, some say, it is the only thing God WON’T interfere with – our ability to make our own choices – including, and especially, with regards to our own personal, individual salvation. Others, like me, say that our free will chooses everything BUT the true and living God. Certainly, we are a religious creature, but we only worship gods of our own making. We KNOW the true God, but we reject him on his terms. Every single one of us.
Now, that doesn’t line up with what most of us have been taught or choose to believe. Yet, when we look at scripture, how do we explain people walking away from everything to pursue a man they don’t even know? How about modern times? We all have heard stories of people suddenly “getting religion.” Maybe you were one of them. I certainly was. How do you explain that?
Irresistible grace. That’s how. For some reason, God has had mercy on that person and forever changed his/her heart. It’s this whole born-again business Jesus told Nicodemus about. It’s the New Covenant that Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied.
Without a doubt, we are all held accountable for our choices. Our free-will will be judged. All will be deemed guilty according to God’s law. Some will receive a full pardon and God’s sole discretion.
We renounce all that we have to follow Jesus. That’s what so baffles the world about born-agains. They can’t comprehend this. Indeed, scripture addresses this.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Believers have walked away from everything. God has changed us, and so we walk away. But we still have that smoky residue from our old self that lingers. Notice the first verse says, “but to us who are being saved….” We are certainly irrevocably saved from God’s judgement and wrath – in a moment of time – but this isn’t an instantaneous transformation into perfection. Certainly, there is a big change, that’s why they call it being “born again.” But there is also a process of “being saved.” That’s the part that causes us so much grief.
You see, we still get hung up on things of this world. Even Christians may become quite distraught over the coronavirus business. We fear losing our wealth, health, and freedom. Yet, if we get our heads on right, we understand that none of these things matter. What is our life compared to being with Jesus? Nothing.
I’m saying this just as much for myself as anyone. If the governor wants to keep the state locked down, that’s his call and not mine. Do his decisions interfere with my life? You bet they do. Should I be concerned? Of course, but only to the extent that I am concerned about protecting what God has given me. Remember the parable of the talents? I must also remember that everything I have is from God and is his to take away at his discretion. He gives, and he takes away. That’s up to him, not me.
Litmus test: Am I enjoying the fruits of the Spirit? If not, something’s wrong, and I need to make adjustments. It’s as simple as that.
Father, thank you for this lesson. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers