December 19, 2016

Only Jesus

The Gospel unites people with God and each other, but it also causes great division. Jesus said that He would put enmity between even the closest of relationships:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:34–39)

In some parts of the world, this enmity is deadly. If one family member becomes a Christian the others may shun him or worse; they might kill him. I’ve met believers who had to flee for their lives. One of them had no identity papers and struggled to find work in his new home, all because his homeland and his family hated Christ.

Chambers uses one of these verses to illustrate that Christ must be my first love. I cannot have anything in my life that I refuse to give up — sin or friendships or even family — if it stands between His heart and mine.

The Bible says that sin is simply “going my own way” not just doing evil things, but living my life apart from God, making decisions, going about my daily activities without giving Him a thought, never mind listening for direction and relying on Him for everything.

God wants His way with me because it is the very best plan. He is mercilessly insistent in every area of my life, driving home His loving truth until there is no possible refuge from obeying it. He takes me to places I do not want to go so I will realize my shortfall and my resistance to Him, even in the smallest ways. As He does this even those ‘small’ things become enormous and a great barrier to walking faithfully with Him.

I realize that thousands of people in this world are happy without God. At a certain level, that was true for me also, but now that Jesus is in my life, He uses the sword of His Word to slash through every peace that is not based on my relationship with Him. He refuses to allow me to put anything or anyone on the throne of my heart. When He wields that sword and it reveals those things that come between us, His peace begins to elude me and I am distressed and can sense being not worthy of Him because I’ve not put Him first in my heart. He is worthy of that priority; nothing should ever prevent Him from being the love of my heart and the Lord of my life.

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