God is doing something in me and I am restless. Not only am I restless but I am a bit concerned about where all of this is going to lead. Have you ever had that feeling? I can't put down my bible and yet if I am honest with myself there is part of me that wants to put it down because I am afraid of what God will reveal. You see deep down I like comfort. I like my life. I love my kids and my husband and my family. I have been aware for some time now that the cost for me to follow Christ has not been high. My parents did not disown me. I do not fear for my life. Our Canadian culture, although not joyfully receptive that I follow Christ, does not persecute me because of my profession of faith. Our family has been free to leave our friends at a church we love in order to move to a new city to start a new church. Really, in comparison to what others have had to give up in order to follow Jesus, the cost on my life has been minimal. I love Jesus and my heart's desire is bring glory and honour to Him with my life but I have been wondering as of late if I like my life to look too much like the lives of others?
I am currently reading through Colossians. Paul is imprisoned in Rome and although he had never met the people of Colossae they are on his heart and he writes them a letter that is speaking to my heart in so many ways. The city of Colossae reminds me of my new home in Hamilton. The mixture of backgrounds made that city an interesting cultural centre where all sorts of new ideas and doctrines were discussed, considered and encouraged. I have found much of that same environment here.
Paul writes, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ."(Colossians 2:8)
I am really struggling with that scripture. At first I thought, "Oh that is not me." but as I have pondered on the rest of the chapter I have realized that God is speaking very clearly to my heart. By the time I got to the last three verses of the chapter I was beginning to see that I can very easily deceive myself in my relationship with Christ.
"If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." ~ Colossians 2:20-23
Ouch that hits home......things that appear and look good and wise to us are of no value? How have I allowed the world and the expectations of our culture to creep into my relationship with Jesus? What things do I do that make me look good by the world's standards or even by our Christian culture standards but really do not bring glory to Christ? What would my faith look like outside of my Canadian culture? All these questions make me a bit nervous and I think David Platt, in his book Radical, really communicates my own fears best.
"I was now confronted with a startling reality: Jesus actually spurned the things that my church culture said were most important. So what was I to do? I found myself faced with two big questions. The first was simple. Was I going to believe Jesus? Was I going to embrace Jesus even though he said radical things that drove crowds away? The second was more challenging. Was I going to obey Jesus? My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to him." ~ David Platt
Yep, David nails it. My fear is to really examine if am I believing Jesus and am I obeying Him. Not a lip service belief and response but a whole hearted absolute surrender to His Will in every aspect of my life all the time. I want to be radical but I am not sure what that looks like exactly. I want to live life here on earth always in response to Jesus. I don't want to blend into the neighbourhood. I don't want to cling to short-term treasures that I can't keep anyway. I want every moment of my life to be invested in things that are eternal always keeping mind a mental picture of the day when I will stand before God giving an account of my stewardship of this life.
So as I sit here I am praying that God will do the impossible and change my heart. I can't do it. I am just like the eleven disciples in verse 17 of Matthew 28. "When they saw Him, They worshiped Him; but some were doubtful." And so, as I start my day, I am hanging on to Jesus' response to their worship and the last words that Matthew records:
"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”