Saturday, January 24, 2009

Convenience or Compassion

Our world is definitely one of convenience, drive through windows, convenience stores, instant drinks and foods, automatic everything - we want things to be convenient for us. As Christian's we can not afford to live a life of convenience, we have to follow Christ, and his was not a life of convenience.

Take for instance when Jesus learned that John the Baptist had been killed in Matthew 14. Jesus sought solitude (Verse 13). But he was followed by a multitude of people. It would have been easy for him to snap and say "Look, I am grieving, leave me alone. I need my space. Let me mourn in private." But in verse 14 we see that even though what He wanted was to be alone, and that He had other things on His mind, he allowed himself to be inconvenienced. When the people came to him. He had compassion and he healed them.

The disciples (verse 15) had a different take on the scene. They wanted Jesus to send the people away because there was no food. They felt it was inconvenient for the people to be there. As Christians we have allowed ourselves to respond as the disciples, we don't want to be inconvenienced by the problems of the multitudes. We want to fit it into our schedules, and preferably on Sunday morning after ten and before noon. We want the multitude to come to us.

The multitude didn't follow Christ to a church. They followed HIM - because he met their needs. He met them right where they were, right when they came to him. He was compassionate. We have to step out of what is convenient and begin to show people the compassion of Christ. We have to go to them. We have to meet them right where they are. We have to be ready to do what we can to help them right there and right then.

And when we can't meet the need, we have to follow the example laid before us. The disciples didn't think they could meet the need of the multitude. So they gave what they could to Christ. He took what they had. He blessed it. He gave it back to them and it multiplied. (verses 14 - 20)We must take what we have to offer (The one thing we all have - our life and everything we have and can do) and give it to Jesus. He will bless what we give (He always does when we give with the right attitude) and He will multiply it to meet the need. We just have to have the compassion for others to want to, instead of the convenience of selfishness.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Take up your cross

I have always heard the verse from Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." But I never fully understood it. Jesus died on the cross, He paid the price for my sins - why would I pick it up? I mean I desire to know God and be a follower of Christ - but what this meant was beyond me.

I have been doing a verse by verse study in the book of Matthew - my goal is to go through the gospels and Acts. I am looking for what Christ told me to do (All Christians to do), what example he set. I have to say it has been pretty eye opening as I allow the Holy Spirit to help me understand and grow in my walk with Christ.

Well, I read that verse again, but I read it in the context of what it was written. Jesus had just rebuked Peter for telling Jesus that the things Jesus was predicting (his death) should not happen. Jesus said "Get the behind me Satan." Jesus knew what laid ahead of him, and as a man it was going to be a hard road to go, he certainly didn't need his friends telling him not to do it.

But right after Jesus makes this incredible statement. If you want to be my follower, deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me. Well certainly as a Christian I want to follow Christ, But his next statement, I believe he was telling to deny what we want just as he had and deny his"self."

Christ certainly had to deny his flesh in order to take our sins upon him - some men might die for their family, but I don't know to many who would die for an enemy (Maybe our military men and women). He had his friends saying "Don't do it." He knew what was coming. But instead, he denied himself. He knew what allowing himself that pleasure would do to the world he came to save - he loved us to much.

So as he stood before his accusers, he denied himself so that he could pay the penalty for my sin.Then he said "take up your cross." Something that my pastor said made this click. Jesus was the high priest but he was also the sacrificial Lamb. He not only offered the sacrifice (as the High Priest) - he was the sacrifice (as the Lamb). When he took up the cross he acted as both.

We also have to be a sacrifice. He doesn't want our body on a Cross - He wants our life fully sacrificed for his cause. He wants us to be willing to offer our life to him, and our life is to be a sacrifice as we deny our self and follow the path he took.He then said "And follow me." He didn't just say "Oh I will die for them." He did it.

So often we say "Oh I will sacrifice .... for Christ" But when push comes to shove, it is Him that gets set aside. We think the sacrifice costs too much. We won't put the action behind our words. Well Christ wants us to follow him - he died - just as he wants us to die to self. He rose again, and He promised to give us a new life for the one we gave up. We die so we can live in Him. He died so we could live with Him. So deny your self, take up your cross, and follow Him. Deny your self, sacrifice your self, and die to self and you will be able to live in Christ.