When we first met God, and understood His love, grace and mercy, we gave up everything, because we knew that God’s treasure was worth far greater than everything that we had. Also, God would not settle for anything less, so when God said give up everything, he meant everything, including: our desires, dreams, ambitions, aspirations, talents, comfort, opinions, money, material possessions, relationships, etc. Jesus wanted us to put our old self to death, so that it would never return and compete against our devotion to Christ.
When we began this race, we crucified our old life, putting it to death, and devoted ourselves to Christ. The overwhelming gratitude that we had, motivated us and filled us up with an inexpressible and glorious joy, a joy that filled our hearts and all of our days. Our lives were still challenging, but that was overshadowed by the overwhelming fulfillment that we experienced at understanding our unworthiness of having a true relationship with God.
We do not crucify the old life; we have no power to do so. Jesus Christ Himself had to be crucified, and he to be crucified by others for us; otherwise he most certainly would not have laid a hand on Himself. Throughout spiritual circles, there is still such an insane, arrogant, misguided emphasis on what we do for Christ, when in fact He has done everything for us! We cannot devote ourselves to God? We are slaves of sin! By the blood of Christ, we have been redeemed
What happened between then and now? Before God was awesome; before God was amazing; a life with God was the greatest treasure on earth. Now we feel unfulfilled, we are bored, we are not joyful and we are struggling with emptiness in our hearts. Before, “God” was the center of our life; now “we” are the center of our thoughts. How did “we” get to be more important than “God?”
It is unclear when it happened, or unclear why it happened, but it is obvious that it did happen: our self has been resurrected and is now trying to share the throne with Christ. We feel hopeless and unfulfilled with our Christian walk for this simple reason: Christ will not bless our lives, because he refuses to be part of a life that shares his throne with the god of self. As the Bible says:
On the contrary, it is very clear. When we dwell on what we have done and what we do, and what must keep doing, we are under law, and have therefore fallen from grace:
"Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
"For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." (Galatians 5:4-6)
Christ's work becomes nullified when we attempt to get his grace, goodness, and godliness by our own getting. When we attempt in any way to make ourselves right with God by what we do, by rule keeping, traditions, works, we fall from grace. It cannot be emphasized enough -- it is not SIN that causes us to fall from grace, but the dead works of trying to keep accounts and work our way up to God. What then is to be done? Faith, the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-10) which works by love-- and this speaks of God's love, not mine!
24 "No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money. NIV
Here Jesus speaks of money, but it could be anything. The item is not the issue, our hearts are the issue. Jesus refuses to share his throne with another God; and until we put ourselves to death, we will live Christianity without Christ. How ironic that we complain that the world has taken Christ out of Christmas, when we have the audacity of taking Christ out of being Christians.
Indeed, we have taken Christ out of Christianity, but not in the sense of living in sin and seeking pleasure in things of the world, but rather in focusing on what we must do, on the effort that we expend. The rest of the passage in the Sermon on the Mount is crucial to understanding that it is not a question of serving God, but rather of letting Him be served in us by the Holy Spirit, who then works through us:
25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. (Matthew 6:25-32)
Jesus does not end his point about the impossibility of serving two masters, but goes on to explain that there is no point to chasing after food and clothing, all of which God provides for the flora and fauna of his Creation. Since we are of infinitely greater value to Him than the lesser elements of creation, we can therefore be confidently assured that He, God the Father, will meet these needs: we do not work, strive, store, strain, or stress of over these things.
So, what are we to do, then?
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:33-34)
"seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness." Wow, so simple, so easy, yet still so easily misunderstood. We do not even strive for these very crucial things, but receive them:
"But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:31-32)
God the Father wants to give you the Kingdom!
Regarding righteousness, it could not be any simpler:
"21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. " (2 Corinthians 5:21)
By Christ's death, we are not only saved, not only made right with God, but we are made the righteousness of God, and unshakable foundation of affirmation, validation, and blessing. In effect, we walk by faith, the faith that we are infinitely loved, perfected by Christ. Therefore:
"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14:17)
How does the Holy Spirit factor into this wonderful doctrine of the Kingdom of Heaven? Refer back to the Gospel of Luke:
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13)
How much more evident could it be, then, that Our Heavenly Father's good pleasure is to give us the Kingdom of God, and to give the Holy Spirit, here evidenced in Luke 11 as the preeminent of God to his people, are one and the same? The Holy Spirit, His rule in ourselves, is the Kingdom of God! And every believer receives the Holy Spirit, for no can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.
How more evident can it be? Everything that we are expected to seek is in fact given to us as an article of faith, and we are called to simply receive it!
Only when we die to ourselves, can we see the true glory of God, and experience a fulfilling relationship with Him. You see, fulfillment, joy, love, satisfaction, security, etc. are all byproducts of having a wholehearted, and single- minded relationship with God. Having God is the entire pursuit, and because we have God, we will reap all of the benefits of a relationship with Him. Once we understand that God is all that we want, we will feel as if we have received the world, because we understand that we have the best this world could offer in Him.
We do not have God. God has us:
"But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine." (Isaiah 43:1)
"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." (Isaiah 49:16)
"Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?" (Isaiah 43:13)
Which connects beautifully with the eternally securing promise of Christ Jesus for His believers:
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:28)
If God is not enough for us, we might want to consider why we are pursuing God in the first place. God is not just enough, He is all, and He is greater than all. God is immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. God is searching for the men and women who will love Him, and pursue Him with this heart, sacrificing everything in order to have Him; the way He has sacrificed everything for us.
It cannot be repeated often enough. We do not seek after Him. He seeks after us. He loved us, therefore we can love Him. He desires us long before we ever desire Him:
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8)
God is Everything, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, the First and the Last, the Bread and Water of Life; the Shepherd, the Door, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Not one element of our lives is left uncared for in the Finished Work of Jesus Christ. There can be no question of his being or not being enough for every person who calls upon Him:
"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)
What is our ultimate purpose in our Christian life? God is our ultimate purpose. Seeking Him, knowing Him, loving Him, pleasing Him, understanding Him, walking with Him, glorifying Him and being downright passionately engrossed in Him is the entire purpose that consumes the true Christian life. As the Bible says:
Our purpose is to be One with Him.
"And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are on." (John 17:22)
…They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Questions for reflection:
What changes are you going to make today - in order to allow Jesus to truly be the Lord of your entire life?
Let's press a different question, a questions which we cannot, nor do not, have to answer.
Are we willing to let the Lord God Almighty transform us into the likeness of His Son?
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." (Romans 12:1-3)
How are we to have our minds transformed?
Paul provides the means in another letter:
"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the
Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
The more accurate translation for "beholding as in a glass" would be "beholding one's self". In effect, because Christ lives in us, has been birthed within us by faith (Galatians 4:19), we already are endowed with his Power and His glory:
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
"And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
"Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
"Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
"Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. " (Ephesians 1:17-23)
We are imbued with Christ's resurrection power, glory, goodness, dominion -- everything that Adam was first given, plus more:
"And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6)
We sit in high places with Him! With Christ!
"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)
God will be the consuming passion in my life; and I will die to myself and make Jesus Lord of my life always.
We have already been crucified with Christ. No longer do I live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20)! Let His Life now be made manifested in us. For he comforts us with this knowledge:
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16)
2 Cor 5:13-15
14 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. NIV
We no longer live for ourselves, because Christ died and now lives for us by living in us!
Today I will die to myself, and live a life completely and passionately engrossed in my loving and awesome God.
We do not die to ourselves. We are crucified with Christ in identifying with his death as the Way to eternal life! Rather, let us practice the presence, the never-ending love of Christ, whose goodness far surpasses our fondest wishes, who is able to do for us more than we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)