Thursday, February 23, 2017
There's been a popular slogan through the years that reads, "I LOVE JESUS". When I think about loving someone, I immediately turn to devotion, to loyalty, to a deep longing to be with that person. When we say we love Jesus, are we really saying we love Jesus and we want to follow Him as loyal and devoted people? Or have we been trapped into a cliche' that says I LOVE JESUS simply to satisfy a cultural norm that is fed to us in society through "religion". I'd pray it means we truly love Jesus for who He is and what He has done for our lives. For one second, I can't deny the transformation Jesus has offered me through His grace and mercy. I know who I was and who Jesus has made me to be. It was foul talk, lying, coveting possessions that defined me, but as I've surrendered more and more to God's will, I accept the fact I can no longer be who I was. The death and resurrection of my Lord demands a change, knowing He's paid the ultimate price for my sin. We don't change unless we grasp reality of who we love. When Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him in Matthew 16: 24, He's not talking about some burden we must carry. When He was carrying His cross up Golgotha to be crucified, no one thought of the cross as a burden to carry. It meant one thing only; death by the most excruciating means possible. It was humiliating. It's rather ironic today we see the cross representing atonement, forgiveness, grace and love. Bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device. So when Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him, He's really saying that we must be willing to die in order to follow Him. Now to be led, we must be willing to follow. To follow, we must be willing to trust. To trust, we must know who we are trusting. Trusting one another is not an easy task these days. We let one another down. We fail each other. We don't meet expectations. But trusting Jesus has historical evidence and detailed facts of His willingness to die for us. Following Him requires a call to surrender, a dying to self. The call to follow may very well be difficult, but friends, the reward is incomparable. It's a lot easier to trust and follow and surrender to Jesus in love and devotion and loyalty when things are easy. But as we begin to experience pain and suffering, recognizing sacrifice therein, we can be assured Jesus told us it would be so as found in John 16: 33b; "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world." There's no greater feeling knowing that Jesus loves us. May we honestly be able to say I LOVE JESUS through the words, actions, and relationships we carry in this life. Jesus is our all in all. Are we willing to follow Jesus if it means losing our job, friends, reputation, family and even our life? Not that all these things will happen, but are we willing to take up our cross.