[July 10]--Unconditional Surrender

Luke 14:25-33

This seems to be a theme that echoes through the Gospels (at least the Synoptics), and maybe you’ve never noticed it before. Our Lord seems to be intent on driving away potential followers. He’s perfectly willing to welcome “seekers” who are curious. He certainly has nothing shameful to hide from the public. But in the end everyone has to make a choice as to whether or not to follow him, and fence-sitters will have to decide if it’s worth it or not.

When I read this and similar passages from the Gospels, it strikes me that Jesus’ approach is the polar opposite of Satan’s. The Enemy of our souls presents the “good side” up front. Like the stereotypical used-car salesman, he'll say anything to get you in the door. When I was a salesman, we had nothing but contempt for a “smooth operator” who wouldn’t hesitate to make promises he couldn’t keep. It’s only when you’ve been taken in and “bought” his deal that you become aware of the “fine print.”

Not so our Savior. You could accuse him of many things, but no one could claim that he presented too rosy a picture of what he offered. Let’s take a closer look at what he’s saying here.

I mentioned before the book Hard Sayings of Jesus by F.F. Bruce, and vs. 26 definitely qualifies for the list. How can this make any sense? This is God in the flesh, right? He’s the One who gave us the Ten Commandments, which includes the directive to honor our parents. He’s the One who invented marriage and family. The way you understand it is, wait for it. . . context. There’s that magical word again. It opens so many locked doors and solves so many mysteries for us. When he tells us to “hate” our parents and other relatives, in the very next breath he tells us to have the very same attitude towards our own lives. Now, my life is valuable to me. It’s a wonderful gift from God, and I’m grateful for it. I certainly wouldn’t throw it away or even risk it unnecessarily. But if my Lord tells me to give it up for him, I should do so with a smile on my face. My parents are even dearer to me, and my wife is “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones.” But if it ever came down to a choice of loyalties or priorities, then the incredible and self-sacrificing love I show towards them should look like “hate” in comparison to my love and devotion to my Savior. Make sense?

Do you have any unfinished projects around the house? Don’t they just grate on your nerves? One of my weaknesses is a tendency to start something and slack off when it gets boring. But think about how embarrassing it'd be if my projects were all facing the street. Imagine if my front lawn was half-mowed and stayed that way for weeks. Wouldn’t that be more humiliating the longer it stood out front? What’s Jesus’ point here? “Don’t start something you can’t finish.” Count up the cost--do a cost/benefit analysis--of being a follower of mine before you sign on the dotted line.

It’s not just an issue of just saying a prayer and being baptized. There’s a little word—“repentance”—which is packed with so much meaning. Salvation is completely free in the sense that you can’t do anything to earn it. Christ paid for all my sins on the cross, and there’s absolutely nothing I could add to that. But receiving salvation is a “package deal,” and part of the package is committing myself to him. It certainly doesn’t mean that I won’t stumble, but it does mean that from now on, I'm committed to doing things his way and not my own. And this commitment--if it's real--will result in a changed life.

The second parable he gives—the one about the two kings—actually gives the flip-side of all this. If you’re really listening to what Jesus is saying, you might respond with “You know what? I've done this cost/benefit analysis you want me to do, Jesus, and quite frankly I don’t think it’s worth it. All this talk about hating my own life and carrying crosses, for some mysterious reason, doesn’t appeal to me. I think I’ll go back to watching TV, thanks oh so much.”

What’s Jesus trying to tell you here? You might think you’re the “king” of your own little “castle.” You have a life. You have interests. You think you can handle anything that comes your way. You can’t. There’s Someone else coming, and he has claims on you. Don’t fight him. That’s a battle you’re going to lose. Instead, plead with him now and come to terms. If you wait until he’s at the door and you’re under siege (an illustration of the Final Judgment), then it’s too late. Make peace with him now!

There’s only one option here. Surrender. Unconditionally. Now. I promise you this. If you give up “everything” for him, you won’t really lose anything worth having. You’re probably sick of it if you’ve been reading the blog for a while, but here goes: No one in the history of mankind has ever done things God’s way who regretted it in the end.

And if you haven't surrendered your life to Christ or aren't sure how to do it, please read this.

I think your word is pretty clear, isn’t it Lord? If I am going to call you that, then there’s no question about who’s in charge. You are. I’m not.

No comments:

Post a Comment