We have all experienced those times when talking with someone, and what they are saying goes right over our heads. It could be a joke that we do not get. It could be a discussion that we are not familiar with. It could be a subject that we know nothing about. Or it could be a topic, that for whatever reason, we do not want to talk about. I came across a verse in the Bible that I think the follower of Jesus might view the same way!
I was recently pondering that I have belonged to Jesus for 38 years since March 2, 1982. There have been many times that I too missed the point of following Jesus. I confess that the majority of times were not caused by ignorance but the hardness of my heart. And I am thankful that the Lord has not given up on me. I acknowledge the blessing of His work through the example of others and the privilege of being exposed to sound Bible teaching. It has helped me to understand what it means to live in God’s grace that I do not deserve. And so I strive to live up to who I am in Jesus by making God honoring choices each day.
Genuine Biblical Christianity is not the proverbial “Walk in the park.” Now, it is the most wonderful thing that can happen in your life, to enjoy a relationship with Jesus. But let’s not deceive ourselves; it is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Paul communicates the challenge to the believers in the city of Corinth. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.”(1 Corinthians 3:18) God’s Word reminds us that worldliness is not compatible with godliness. The challenge I see here is the deception of believing that I can live both ways. But this is a false belief, because as Jesus reminds His followers that it is an “either/or choice”, not a “both/and option.” He used the illustration of money to make the point. ““No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) This is true in our lives also. It is what makes following Jesus so challenging, choosing to serve the Creator rather that serving myself.
Every New Testament book that I am aware of addresses this same challenge in some sphere of life. It is a call to follow Jesus, rather than living for myself. God’s instructions for the Galatians contrast this as the struggle between the Spirit and the flesh. And in Galatians 5:19-21 he provides a number of examples of ways we live for ourselves. What is not so surprising is that the list describes the world in which we live. It is the way the section ends that reminds me that there are consequences associated with my choices. “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:21)
So the question that I ask myself and would ask you to ask yourself, “Have I missed the point of Christianity?” Have I made it about my own comfort, convenience and satisfaction?” Or “Have I made it a priority to honor Jesus?” Our decision is made at those daily intersections of life that force us to choose between following Jesus or living for myself. Following Jesus is the point of Christianity!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson