Hello New Life. Praying all of you are having a blessed week. During the topical study weeks, elders will be rotating to provide the words of encouragement emails. So here’s today’s WOE. Trying to make this email short and sweet is an art in itself so apologies in advance if it’s too long for your taste.
This past Sunday, at the retreat site, Pastor Paul preached from Mark 1:16-20. He divided his points into four parts when it comes to following Christ: necessity, what it means to follow, how to follow, and what it leads to. In today’s culture, following Christ is very challenging due to the message of self-centric messages that surround us: follow your dreams that make you happy whether it be at work, home, or even at church. Reality is, only Christ can provide the joy and peace that this world can never provide if we pick up the cross and follow him.
There were so many great points from this passage but what really stood out was what it means to follow Christ as our Savior and LORD. In the previous verse 17, Jesus talked about repentance before diving into what it means to follow him. These two cannot be separated and go hand in hand. Why is that? Because Jesus Christ is fully savior and fully LORD. You can’t separate the two. This is significant b/c we can’t simply choose one and not the other. We can’t say, “Jesus, thanks for the work on the cross and securing my eternal salvation in you but when it comes to how to live my life, please stay out.” When Jesus called his disciples to follow him, he didn’t put any condition by saying, “when you’re free … if you choose to … if you feel like it … “ It was a command to follow him immediately. Repentance must always lead to obedience to follow.
Brothers and sisters, do you struggle with following Christ today? Is Christ your highest priority every day, in every way, and in everything? Oswald Chamber quoted this “Your priorities must be God first, God second, and God third, until your life is continually face to face with God and no one else is taken into account whatsoever.” When we first had Noah, our lifestyle changed to accommodate his needs by surrounding our living room with toys he liked, eating at restaurants that were Noah friendly, and keeping quiet when he was deeply asleep. Our priority of his well-being shaped our lifestyle altogether. Likewise with Christ, if he is our ultimate priority, our lifestyle should be changed to reflect his name and glory in every way. How we talk, how we act, how we finance, how we approach a relationship, and the list goes on.
So what led us to this point that we can even put God first as our priority? It is because Jesus Christ first prioritized God’s ultimate command to follow him and die on the cross for our sins! Through his perfect obedience to the Father, we have been redeemed as his perfect children through the righteousness of Christ. THIS is why we can even repent and follow him to begin with.
Praying this was a good reminder for all of us to examine our hearts as we prioritize to follow Christ. When it becomes hard to prioritize Christ, remember his first love for you. Christ died for you because he prioritized and loved you. Don’t just know it but realize it every day.
Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEy6djSZhFk