Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Leaving Everything Behind for Jesus

I’m in a wondering mood today, the second day of May. You might think I made a mistake in that first sentence and wrote ‘wondering’ instead of ‘wandering’, but no, I meant wondering. When I have questions in my brain, it helps me to write my thoughts out so this blog post is the beneficiary of my ‘wondering thoughts’ today.

In the course of time that I have blogged, I have become acquainted with writers from all over the world who blog about a variety of subjects. Recently, I have been reading a blog written by a gentleman from Nigeria, and I have realized that those of us who are western Christians have no idea, have no idea what the title of this post really means. He has written a series of posts reflecting on Christ which have brought my thoughts into sharp focus and brought questions to my mind which I’m not sure anyone can answer. I’m going to take a stab at it though I might end up with more questions than I do answers.

What does it truly mean to leave everything behind for Jesus? The disciples did that. They left behind businesses and families for a man they had just met. It’s hard to know why someone would leap from the known to the unknown, but that’s what these men did. So much courage–courage I’m not sure I would have today, but I want to have it. I want to know what it truly means to leave everything behind for Jesus.

Does it mean we quit our jobs and travel around the country or the world telling others about Jesus? Do we take jobs to provide ourselves with food and shelter while we are traveling? Do we shed the trappings of this world to center our minds and hearts on Jesus?

What about our families? Do we need to be willing to leave them behind and let Jesus be first and prominent in our lives? This is the one that confuses me sometimes. We’re told we need to provide for our families, but we’re also told we need to provide for the people who work in our churches.

I know people who won’t walk into Christian churches (mainly mega-churches) because they see the ministers of those churches as being excessively wealthy while they themselves are not. I know part of that is our sin nature and wanting to keep everything for ourselves. I also know what’s in my heart and soul is very dark compared to Jesus. But, how does all this look when I see people who work in the church or who are elders in the church with more wealth than I ever hope to have? Should I not worry about what I see or hear and keep what I give between me and God? What happens when churches keep asking for more and more money?

Other people say the only people they are supposed to provide for are their families, and they won’t step into a church because they say the people aren’t doing what God wants them to do. We did that for a while like I have said before in this blog. We had been so badly hurt by the church, we couldn’t see what God was doing in the church. There are also others who only worship with their families because they say the institutional church is what’s wrong with Christianity. I feel both of those are wrong now because of what I’ve learned about community. I have met many people who earnestly desire to live in community with their fellow believers. They’re not perfect at it just like I’m not perfect, but they do their best, and, for the most part, they succeed.

I set this post aside for a few hours and have come back to it with a new realization. I know why I am asking these questions, and it all comes back to fear. I fear that people in the church will abandon me or set me aside after they have asked for all the money I have to give. I am afraid, pure and simple. I know what has happened to me in previous churches, and I fear the same thing will happen to me in the one I go to now. I’m afraid I will be completely abandoned by the Christian community I am in now, and all the wonderful things I have learned about the community of God will be put by the way side because of a simple thing called money.

Pain, hurt, tears. Jesus experienced all the same things I’m feeling, and I think that goes to the crux of what it means to leave everything behind for Him. He was alone on the cross when He died for our sins, and He knows when we hurt and when we sin. But, He loves us anyway even though He knows we won’t be perfect until we come to Him. So, that’s what I need to do. I need to love the people around me, even though they might reject me or cause me pain, because they’re not perfect. and I’m not perfect either. I can do no less than what Jesus does for me. And when that is my foremost desire, when all I want is to be and love like Jesus, my Lord and Savior, then the things of this world will pale in comparison, and this place will be a place I am just passing through on the way to my eternal home.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

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Everyone Can Pray

Yesterday morning, I sat in on a Bible class that talked about Martin Luther and referenced verses of Scripture that he said allowed all of us who believe, access to God without an intermediary. Here are some examples.

Romans 1:16-17 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.'”

Another example is from Galatians 3:13-14. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written. ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

Paul also says in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

So, if we are all free to believe in God, to pray to God, I wonder why those of us in Protestant denominations still think the only people who are good enough to pray with others are those in church leadership or their wives. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I often write about experiences I have in my church, and this experience is one I have had recently. It threw me for a loop. I know I don’t have the most perfectly worded prayers, but I know they are sincere. My relationship with God has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years, and I know it has grown because of the time I have spent in prayer. So, when I was told I was not good enough to pray because I was not a shepherd’s wife, I was hurt. I was very hurt. I really didn’t know what to say. I found the person a shepherd, and the requested prayer was offered.

Why can’t we pray for each other? Why can’t all of us offer prayers for each other? Why are the people in leadership the only ones considered good enough to pray? I’ve had these questions racing around in my head since the incident happened, and they’ve been complicated by the shepherd selection process we’ve been in for the last few weeks. I look at the people who have been selected, and while they are all worthy of the position of leadership, I wonder what makes them more worthy to pray for people than me. I want to grow. I want to serve. I want to be the hands and feet of Christ. But, I can’t do that if I’m not allowed to try.

I end by saying this. The next time a friend offers to pray with you, don’t reject them in favor of someone who is in church leadership. Let them pray!

Signed,

Someone who is not a shepherd’s wife.

A New Beginning

This blog represents a new beginning for me. In my previous blog, I touched on my Christian faith, but realized that I needed a place to talk about it, fully and passionately.  So, that’s what this is. A place where I will talk about the things I’m learning through my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and how I’m applying them to my life and to my heart.

First is an explanation of the title of this blog. As you can see, it is “Thriving in Grace”. There are several definitions of the word thrive. For my purposes, I will use this one–“to prosper, flourish”. What do you think of when you see those words? I think most people think of gaining wealth or material things. There are also words in the definitions though that speak to things besides gaining wealth. These things include growth or progressing towards a goal. That’s what I mean when I use the word thriving in my title. I’m growing in grace, progressing towards grace.

Now, what about grace, the most important part of the Christian faith? The verses you can see above illustrate the concept well. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. ” There is also a definition in the dictionary along these same lines. “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”  But people have a hard time accepting grace, accepting that they don’t need to do anything for this miracle. Why is that? It might have something to do with the way people have been brought up–especially in the United States–thinking that everything has a cost. But, that’s not the case with grace. God’s grace is given freely. His son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for us, for all of our sins. The only thing, the only thing, that is required is belief. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done; it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel adequate. The gift is the same for everyone.

Now, as you read this, you might think there’s no way you could accept this free gift–that I have no idea what you’ve said or done, that I seem to have it all together. That would be the furthest thing from the truth. I have been a professed Christian for a long time, but I have to re-accept God’s grace every day. Every day I am not worthy of what he has done for me. And that is why I have titled this blog, “Thriving in Grace”. I want to show all of you how you can flourish, how you can grow in the grace God wants  to give you.

Looking forward to starting this adventure with you.

God’s blessings to all of you today.