May 14, 2011

Do we really treasure Christ?

In Matthew 13:44 Jesus says, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." 
What is the kingdom of heaven?  Jesus many times refers to it as His kingdom, essentially it is where believers dwell with God.  And Jesus says that this is so valuable that he compares it to a treasure we would sell all of our possessions to obtain.  
Is this how we value our relationship with God?  Are we so caught with Him that we would consider Him our highest treasure?  Would we be willing to forsake our jobs, our money, our lives, our reputations, our friends, our family, our popularity, etc for the sake of gaining Christ?  Can we say with Paul in Philippians 3:7-8, "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ."  
Paul was a highly educated dude, he had power, had prestige, and very likely had a good financial situation.  He calls himself a "Jew of Jews".  And he says all of this is rubbish compared to knowing Jesus.  Now a lot of us would say that, too.  But would we walk it like Paul did?  Cause all those things he had before...he lost.  He was beaten, jailed, shipwrecked, accused of being a liar and a swindler, and ultimately was beheaded-why?  Because he valued Christ and His kingdom and preached the Gospel.  
How do we value Jesus?  We treat our faith in Jesus as a "private matter."  We walk in habitual sin and call it "freedom."  Even our "church lives" are centered on satisfying our needs, we want to feel spiritual, we want to feel good, we want to know how God can help make us better people, we cry out "don't judge me!" when someone calls us to holiness.  We don't give to churches or missions because we don't want to lower our standard of living.  We don't give our time because we are too busy watching Sportscenter or our favorite sitcom.  We don't disciple others because there are "professional" ministers to do that.  We don't study our Bibles because it's too much work and besides, it is confusing anyway.
Really?  That's our treasure?  Sounds to me like it's a part of our lives, and a small one at that.  Is Sunday Morning Christianity compatible with Jesus radical call to discipleship?  Jesus says people were going to hate us for following Him...are we?  If no one can tell the difference between us and the world, are we really following Jesus?  And if we aren't following Jesus, do we really believe He is who He claims to be?  It seems pretty difficult to reconcile the idea that someone who claims to be God Himself could have followers or believers in Him who didn't treat Him as God and obey Him and live life the way He tells them to.  In fact when the Apostle Paul writes his letter to the Romans, he addresses the issue of claiming to be saved by Jesus and continuing in our old lifestyle.  His response?  "May it never be!"  James, the brother of Jesus, would call such a faith "dead."
So my question for you is this:  do you follow Jesus with your life, or only with your words?  And if your life does not reflect your words, do you really believe what you're saying?  


Let me be clear: our actions cannot, have not, and will not ever save us or earn us favor with God.  That is purchased for us solely by the blood of Jesus on the cross and made certain by His triumphant resurrection.  Ephesians 2:8-10 would tell us, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."  He saves us by grace, for His glory.  And what does He call us to?  The good works He has prepared for us to walk in.  Not to earn favor.  Not to merit salvation.  But to model to the world that this Gospel is real.  To proclaim that Jesus is my greatest treasure.  To present my body as a living sacrifice, acceptable to God.  He has already accepted me in Christ, showing me His love..  I now offer myself to Him in love, not to earn what He has already given, but in response to it.  
If you believe Jesus, if you trust Jesus, you will follow Jesus.  Follow Jesus.

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I love Jesus, my wife, and my kids. Writing and teaching are two things I have a passion for. Gardening and fishing are cool, too. I blog @ willdole.com, you can reach me @ contact@willdole.com