Have you ever been in a conversation with someone in which you had to ask if they are being serious? Maybe you weren’t certain if they were just joking around, or if you actually needed to take what they were saying seriously. Unfortunately, this confusion carries over into our faith and our walk with Jesus. I fear that those who observe Christians and the church are far too often left asking the question, ARE YOU SERIOUS?
Essentially, as Christians, the way we choose to live out our faith is a conversation with the world around us. We communicate this conversation through our day to day actions, words, and commitments. It is very important for us to understand that the world is asking the Christian if they are serious about this whole “following Jesus” thing. The truth is, throughout the gospels Jesus calls his followers to a serious faith (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:23). In fact, Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 7:16 that his followers “will be recognized by their fruits.” Basically, Jesus is telling his disciples…THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU WILL DETERMINE HOW SERIOUS YOUR FAITH IS BY THE LIFE YOU LIVE.
So how are we, as followers of Christ and as His church, communicating our seriousness about our faith to the world? Are we leading the world to ask the question “are you serious?”, or is it very clear that we take our faith seriously? Some tough questions to ask yourself to figure out where you might be regarding this:
-Do my actions let those around me know that Jesus means everything to me, and that I take nothing more seriously than my faith?
-Take a look at my calendar. Does it reveal that I take the activities of this world more seriously than my commitment to Christ and his mission?
-Does the verbiage of my mouth reflect the seriousness of following Jesus, or does it come out as more of a joke?
These are all very tough questions that we each need to continually be asking ourselves as we seek to communicate to the world that WE ARE VERY SERIOUS about following Jesus.
The tone of His teaching is serious. Jesus doesn’t approach this teaching session with his followers in a silly or lazy manner. He comes with honesty and urgency. This chapter is hard to read with a smile on your face and a “sign me up” attitude. You don’t walk away from this chapter feeling all warm and fuzzy. Actually, you walk away feeling a little nervous about what you signed up for as a Christian. Maybe the preacher didn’t explain this when he was encouraging you to give your life to Christ.
Matthew 10 enlightens the reader to the reality of following Christ. Jesus says that he is sending us out as sheep in the midst of wolves (verse 16). Before that, in verse 8, He tells us what we’ll be doing: Healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons… Easy stuff right? No problem. In verse 17, He gives us a nice little heads up, “Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues.” I think my favorite is found in verse 22, where Jesus tells us that everyone is going to hate us because of His name. Encouraging stuff right?
Don’t stop there. Read through the entire chapter because in verses 26-32 we find out why we would ever sign up for this crazy calling. Verse 26 tell us to “have no fear”. In verse 28, Jesus reminds us not to fear those who can only kill the body. Rather fear Him who can destroy body and soul in Hell. You see, Jesus is telling his followers to not fear this world, because He controls eternity. He wants his followers to have an eternal perspective while we walk this earth. This eternal perspective allows us to focus on His purpose for us in this world. (If you’re not sure what that is, see Matthew 28:18-20)
When we take this calling seriously, man can’ t touch us. The consequences of not doing this are far more serious. See verse 38:
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” -Jesus
I want to be found worthy before Christ. I pray that you and I would take this Matthew 10 calling seriously on a daily basis. And no worries, because the reward is great. Read verses 40-42 and see for yourself.
As Christians, we live in a society that teaches everything but rest. This world teaches us to constantly go, make decisions for ourselves, and never slow down. Unfortunately, in the midst of all this worldly advice, Christians forget to rest in the Lord. This may not seem too important, but the Bible says differently:
Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 33:14; Leviticus 25:4; Psalm 73:26; 61:1; 62:1-2,5; 131:2; 116:7; Matthew 11:28; Mark 6:31; Proverbs 19:23; Hebrews 4:9-11; 1 Tim 6:6; John 16:33; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 John 3:19; 1 Peter 3:4; 5:7
So if Resting in The Lord is so important, what does it mean and how do we practice this in our spiritual walk?
Resting in the Lord is basically to trust in Him; to find contentment in Him.
So how do we do we practice this?
1. Include Him in Your decisions. Big or small decisions, seek the Lord’s guidance.
2. After step 1, LISTEN FOR HIS RESPONSE. [we tend to forget this one]
3. Remove distractions [social media, distracting relationships, busy schedule…]
4. SLOW DOWN/ be still—Psalm 46:10
5. Be patient.
6. Be content—1 Timothy 6:6
7. Seek HIS desires, not your own.
8. Trust Him.
I can recall hearing this option of “rededication” during my childhood and teenage years of church. Honestly, I always used it as some sort of spiritual insurance policy to solidify my relationship with God. For example, if I ever began feeling guilty for confessed sin in my life as a young believer, or if I was feeling distant from God, I would try and fix the issue by publicly (before my church) making a decision of rededication. This would make me feel better until the next revival service, then I would repeat the process. The problem with this strategy that I, and several other believers, practiced is that it takes away glory from God and his unconditional/inescapable love to those who are His. Through this dangerous process, we begin to trust more in some routine prayer of rededication than we trust in God’s unfailing grace and mercy in our lives as His children.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe having a heart of rededication is very important, but maybe it should be more private and more often. I’m suggesting that we, as Christians, make this a daily and personal practice in our lives. I think of David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51. In verse 10, David prays, “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me”. I think David understands what true rededication should look like here. He doesn’t wait until the next big evangelistic crusade in Israel to announce it to everyone, but he goes to the Father and asks for a clean heart and a renewed spirit. I pray that the act of rededication would turn from a public and generic re-decision, to a personal and daily dedication in the heart of every believer.
“Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender…” -All Sons and Daughters
Amazing lyrics from a Christ-honoring band. Check them out.
I have recently been reminded of how often we, as Christ followers, like to use the “pray about it” phrase either in response to a request or in making a request to someone. I understand this response is sometimes necessary, but I am also afraid that we encourage delayed obedience in our life or in the life of someone else by using this phrase too often. Think about it. Have you ever been asked to do something or serve in some way, and before you know it mouth vomit takes over and you have suddenly committed to intense prayer over a simple request? Through personal experience I have found that the majority of the time I use this dangerous phrase, I never end up praying about it, and I hardly follow through with the request. I’m convinced we really use the phrase to delay an opportunity to serve God and others. A wise man once told me that delayed obedience is disobedience. To help us all avoid more delayed obedience, here are a few reminders when faced with the temptation of using this “pray about it” phrase:
- If you are the one making the request, don’t tell them to “pray about it”! Let them be the one to determine whether or not to pray before making their decision. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt obligated to delay my answer (even though I knew my answer) because the request was concluded with “just pray about it”. How confusing is that? Just make the request and trust the individual to give the right response.
- If you are being asked, be confident in your wisdom from above (James 3:17) and His Spirit within you to deliver your answer then and there. This may not be the case for every situation, but don’t let every situation turn into a waiting game.
- Let your yes be yes and no be no. (Matthew 5:37)
- Your confidence in Christ is built and strengthened as you learn more about Him. The more we know the character of Christ, the more we know how He expects us to respond in these situations. So get to know your Savior.
- If it’s an opportunity to serve and give God glory, then He probably wants you to do it. If it is a life-changing decision that effects more than just your life, then I would most definitely spend some time in fasting and prayer. More times than not though, a simple yes or no will do. Don’t complicate it.