February 6, 2012

"Spiritually dead bury their own"


As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”
   The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead![a] Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”
But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:57-62

I have been spending some of my time thinking about the twelve disciples lately.  Pondering over just who they were and why Jesus chose them.  Why did Jesus not pick great scholars of the bible?  Why did He not choose the holy priests to walk beside Him and share the good news? 

At my current church, my pastor often talks of the tax collectors.  He refers to the tax collectors as being wretched men back in their day.  No one liked them.  In bible times, the tax collectors were considered by the Jews to be traitors and probably much like thieves. Tax collectors were hated. They were considered the worst sinners by most of the population. Jesus chose a tax collector. He chose a tax collector to follow Him and to be one of His closest friends.

Jesus also chose fishermen.  One fisherman in particular was Peter.  He is described in this way by Josephus, "They were ever fond of innovation and by nature disposed to change and delighted in sedition. They were ever ready to follow the leader and to begin an insurrection. They were quick in temper and given to quarreling and they were very chivalrous men." The Talmud says this of the Galileans, "They were more anxious for honor than for gain, quick-tempered, impulsive, emotional, easily aroused by an appeal to adventure, loyal to the end." 
As I read about the twelve, I think it is safe to say they were sinners and not the most likely of candidates.  I think I am just like them.  I can be a loose cannon at times.  I have been hated and probably still am by some.  I am emotional and can be “given to quarreling” at times. I too am not the most likely of candidates.

Like Peter, I have denied Jesus because of my fear of what others would think if they knew I chose to follow Jesus.  Like Peter, I have found myself sinking in the ocean during a storm because I have taken my eyes off Him.  Like Peter, I have found myself feeling shame from my lack of obedience and commitment to fully following Christ.

I am a sinner.  My list of sins could fill the internet.  I sin daily.  Nevertheless, like Peter, I have an unending love and passion to follow Christ.  Like Peter, I have an incredible desire to get it right. Like Peter, I have let Him down. Like Peter, I have felt shame.  However, like Peter, I have experienced the unending love, mercy and forgiveness of my Savior.  I have discovered that no sin can separate me from the love of Christ.  No sin can undo the sacrifice He made for me when He chose the cross.

I have been called many things.  I have been called a gossip, an adulterer, a liar, a cheat, a backstabber, impatient, dishonest, manipulative, judgmental, one of little faith, reckless, a thief and much more.  My list of sins consist of those I’ve committed and those that people believe I have committed but no matter what others say or think here is what God calls me…I am HIS princess, HIS daughter, and I was worth dying for.  He says I’m forgiven.  He says I’m loved.  He says He’s proud of me.  He says He has great plans for me.  God says that He wants to use me.

You see, what I have realized is that those twelve disciples did not instantly become perfect because they chose to follow Jesus.  Peter was still a fisherman.  Matthew was still labeled a wretched tax collector. Instead, as each of the twelve began to follow Jesus, their attitudes began to change.  Their hearts began to soften because their lives began to reflect the One that they followed.

For me, following Jesus is not about getting it right all the time.  It is not about living a life that makes others believe that I’m perfect.  Following Jesus is about walking with Him and allowing Him to change my life every step of the way.  It is a daily process of surrender as I begin to change into who He wants me to be.  Just like Peter, I will screw up (sin) daily because like Peter, I’m human but like Peter, I will choose to follow Jesus.  My heart belongs to Jesus.  My life is His.  People will never understand the choices we may make when we choose to totally surrender to Jesus.  I am choosing to be totally sold out to Jesus and in the end, all that matters is that Jesus knows that He alone has my heart and that He alone is the One that I follow. 

No one is perfect.  Anyone who claims to be is living a lie.  Anyone who spends their lives pointing fingers at the sins of others is missing the greatest love story ever.  I am choosing to remove my mask.  I am not perfect.  I hardly ever get it right.  My Jesus gave up His life for me.  He knew when He took His place on that cross that I would fail Him but He chose to do it anyway.  That is true love and He is the ONE that I choose to surrender my heart to for forever and I will live my life in a way that demonstrates His love and mercy to a hurting world that needs to experience His love and forgiveness!

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