Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day…
14 “So fear the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone. 15 But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT)
15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! 17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 18 So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. 19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. 20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Revelation 3:15-21 (NLT)
I believe that I cannot come to my Lord Jesus Christ by my own intellegence or power. But the Holy Spirit call me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as He calls, gathers together, enlightens and makes holy the whole Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus in the one, true faith. In this Church, He generously forgives each day every sin committed by me and by every believer. On the last day, He will raise me and all the dead from the grave. He will give eternal life to me and to all who believe in Christ. Yes, this is true! (1)
When God our Lord gives us his grace, when he calls us by a specific vocation, it is as if he were stretching out his hand to us, in a fatherly way. A strong hand, full of love, because he seeks us out individually, as his own sons and daughters, knowing our weakness. The Lord expects us to make the effort to take his hand, his helping hand. He asks us to make an effort and show we are free. To be able to do this, we must be humble and realize we are little children of God. We must love the blessed obedience with which we respond to God’s marvelous fatherhood. We should let our Lord get involved in our lives, admitting him confidently, removing from his way any obstacles or complications. We tend to be on the defensive, to be attached to our selfishness. We always want to be top dog, even if it’s only to be on top of our wretchedness. That is why we must go to Jesus, so that he will make us truly free. Only then will we be able to serve God and all men. This is the only way to realize the truth of Saint Paul’s words: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2)
There are going to be some friends of mine who are going to strongly react to the title of this blog entry. They are going to wonder if I have returned to my days of teaching “decision theology”, or somehow have abandoned the Lutheran Confessions, or don’t believe they are an accurate explanation of scripture. (the third quote is from Luther’s small catechism and I agree with it without any reservation)
However, deciding to follow Jesus is different that deciding I want to be saved by Him. It is not the action of initial salvation, but a response to His invitation to take up our cross and follow Him, to interact with Him, to humbly partner with Him, as He leads us through life as a man leads his partner across the dance floor. It is what we are called to – as disciples, as friends, as working beside the greatest example of humility and servanthood.
But we rebel against this idea – much as St. Josemaria indicates, we are defensive – and we can even use our theology to “back” that selfishness, to defend our “precious” (see Tolkein’s Hobbit and LOTR charachter Gollum) Indeed, the only freedom from the idols we would partner with instead of God, is found when we let God strip them from us, as we instead are focused on Him, devoted to Him, (again – these things are His work – not ours) drawn to Him. That’s what following Jesus is about – letting Him lead in life, letting Him cleanse us and set us apart to walk with, to dance with, Him.
Joshua challenge us to this – if you aren’t going to interact, if you aren’t going to engage in the relationship, go follow other gods and see where they lead you. John is directed to write in Revelation – open the door – don’t be wishy-washy. Live life as one united to Christ in baptism. IOW – Let God direct your steps – and engaged in worship – you then will follow Him, even as the lady moves with her strong dance partner.
So decide today – my fellows Christians, those who claim to trust in Christ, to follow where He leads you…. even, especially when you can’t see where you are going – for then you are looking at the right place – at Him!
We cry out, “Lord, Have Mercy!” But will we see and hear…that He has?
(1) Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.
(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). Christ is Passing By (Kindle Locations 745-756). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.