I have often said to my eldest son as we discussed serious issues that life is a series of choices. Where you will live? Who will be your friends, marry? How you will react to what happens to you? What you will do with your time, talent and energy?
When you look back at your life you can usually see the line it took by plotting out the choices you made along the way. Christian life is like this as well. Jesus tells all of His would-be disciples that their lives will eventually bring them to 3 choices and what they choose will determine the direction of their spiritual lives.
#1 - Peace or Conflict
34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man's enemies will be the members of his household.
37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
- Matthew 10:34-37
Being a Christian will always bring the disciple into conflict with one's surroundings. Christianity goes against the grain of this world - its ideas, actions, desires. Even the ones who love and accept us most readily, our family, will be in conflict with us over Christ if we decide to follow Him and they don't.
Just start being more zealous for Christ than your parents, brothers, sisters, friends, or spouses and watch the tension rise. Paul tells us that our own flesh will be in conflict against our spirit when that spirit is given to Christ - Gal. 5:17. In other words, your own SELF will be in battle with you if you decide to give everything to Jesus.
If you are a disciple or contemplating becoming one, realize that your choice will include a lifelong conflict with your surroundings because this world and everyone within it are OPPOSED to Christ and if you stand with Him - will be opposed to you in one way or another. If you choose Christ, you have chosen conflict over peace.
#2 - His Will Over Your Will
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
- Matthew 10:38
Many creative sermons from this text about the imagery of carrying the cross of Christ but basically the Lord is asking us to submit to the same thing that He did which led Him to carrying the cross - the will of the Father.
Jesus said, "Not my will but Thy will be done" MK 14:36 and in doing this resulted in Him litterally carrying a cross upon which He was executed. When we choose to be Christians that choice includes our submission to the will of God:
- His will is that we be forgiven, raised from the dead, comforted and nourished by the HS and this is good.
- His will also requires that we put sin out of our lives, that we genuinelly sacrifice ourselves for others and yes, sometimes even give up our lives for His cause on a modern day cross.
Whatever it means in your life the choice is always the same, to choose Christ is to choose to do HIS will over your own!
#3 - The Next Life Over This Life
He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
- Matthew 10:39
It is a constant test of faith that the Christian chooses to invest his/her time and talent in a place that he cannot see, a kingdom she cannot touch. The hidden words in this text are "...in this world" after found his life and lost his life.
The choice of the Christian is the same choice that:
- Abraham made - to have the security and comfort of Ur or to travel to another world and hope for a nation he could not see.
- Moses made - who gave up the PLEASURES AND RICHES of sin and this world for the vision of the future.
- Jesus bore the cross willingly so He could see the light of resurrection morning.
The one who chooses Christ chooses also the life that is to come over this one, the world that is unseen over the one around us, the pleasure and riches of the heavenly kingdom over the glitter and temporary delights of the earthly kingdom.
So let's turn the lesson towards ourselves...
Think for a moment. Where have your choices led you until now?
- Have you been at peace with the world.
- Your religion causes you no conflict?
- You have been friends with the enemy?
- You see sin and smile, you see injustice and turn away, you stare at need without feeling any push to give or get involved?
- Have you done pretty much your own will and avoided any sacrifice of your independance in order to put God 1st.
- In your lifestyle - YOU are #1, not Him.
- Have you sunk your roots, set your hopes, dreamed your dreams on the riches and rewards in this world - and there are many.
If these are your choices I'm here to tell you that you have made the wrong decisions. They may "feel" right, but as Solomon says,
There is a way which seems right to a man,
but its end is the way of death.
- Proverbs 14:12
If on the other hand your choices have led to conflict with the world, a breaking of your own will to allow Christ to rule and a hope based on the riches in heaven not those here on earth. You may feel uncomfortable, always in struggle, never satisfied with the status quo here. But your choices are right and they will lead you to a peaceful death, a glorious resurrection and a joyful existance for all eternity.
If you've put off choosing to follow Christ by obeying the gospel or have made bad choices as a Christian I encourage you to make the right choice by giving your life to God today.