Sometimes I have to take rebuke like pie in the face. This was not one of those times. I won't tell you the context, because it really doesn't matter. Besides, it's happened twice in the last week. When I hear things coming at me from multiple perspectives, it is usually time to listen.
Who do you think you are?
I know who I am. I am Thomas when he doubted. I am Jonah when he ran. I am Samson when his head was shaved. I am Moses when he lost his temper. I am Balaam blindly moving forward. I am Peter when he denied Jesus. I am the tax-collector in the temple crying out, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I am the thief on the cross who gasps, "Lord, remember me when you enter into your kingdom."
I know who I am. My faith was restored, my feet were set on the right path, I realized my strength was not enough, I yielded to the obedience of God, I fell humbly to the ground and I cried out to Jesus.
I am redeemed. I am made new. I was once lost and without hope. Now the God of the universe calls me His son. He has commanded me to follow Him.
Who do I think I am? I am the child of the God of the universe. I am forgiven. I am justified. I am being made holy.
I am all in. I am not interested in safe or comfortable religion. I seek the path that Jesus followed. I acknowledge that his love was so scandalous that he was put to death…and so were his disciples. I say this because I cannot escape it. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. And that is a radical thing.
He was rejected by his own hometown. He was rejected by the ruling elite. He was rejected by the religious leaders. He didn't fit the mold. He didn't meet their expectations. He extended trust and friendship to the prostitutes, the drunks, and the bottom of society. He just didn't follow the rules.
He reached out to the lost, the hurt, the broken, the dirty, the disconnected. It cost him. It cost him dearly. And still…he loved them. He called them to be his disciples. I am so thankful. Because I am them. He called me. I am his disciple.
It isn't noble. It isn't admirable. It simply is what I perceive as my only choice. My God calls me. I must answer in obedience or turn away in defiance. There is no middle ground.
The savior extends his hand and says, "Follow me." We have a choice to make. There is nothing that can come before Him. If anything stands between me and him, he demands that I release it. My relationship with him is greater than my love for my wife, my children, my father, and my mother. Should he demand them all… then still I will serve Him.
It is all his anyway. Any effort to save my own life if I value it more than my relationship to Him… will only result in me losing it. And yet… if I lose it for Him, well… they go to heaven. If I lose my own life, I go to heaven. Winning.
There is nothing safe about following this savior. There is nothing comfortable about the way he calls us to love. If you seek a comfortable religion, you best shy away from being a follower of Christ. It simply cannot happen. Jesus was scandalous. Following him means that we shatter expectations.
When he called his disciples he demanded that they abandon everything else. No time to say goodbye, no time to bury the dead. Nothing comes before those steps of following Him. Nothing can separate. Nothing can stand in between. What do you hold that you are not willing to give him? What if he made to you the demand of your children? Your marriage? Your life?
Following him means that we reach out trust to those who are shunned by the upper class of society. Being a man of God means that I am willing to sacrifice my own well being for the sake of drawing others to him. It means that everything I have becomes secondary. I don't put my children before following Jesus. I don't value my safety above following Jesus. I don't value security before following Jesus.
My life is his. My timeline is an eternal one. This world is not my home. This moment is a puff, a vapor in the wind of eternity. I would quickly choose to lose this life for the sake of the one who made me. Yes, I know who I am.
There are times that following Jesus means that I might offend you. My highest value is not tolerance. It is not peace. It is obedience to the one that made me. Nothing else compares. Why? Because I know who I am.
I am the adopted child of the King. There is nothing that can separate me from His great love. Each time I have fallen short, he has restored me. My God came into the world so that I could be saved. So that I could be reconciled and drawn close to him… again.
Who do I think I am?
How much time to you have? How about a cup of coffee?