Letting Jesus Be Lord
(some thoughts from a brother here to a few saints... which I intercepted and am passing along : ))
I have had several thoughts and passages going through my mind the last week or so, as it relates to Jesus being Lord of my life. I am coming to a growing realization that I have not been living under His Lordship in a full and complete way. I’ll try to explain what I mean by that, in hopes that we all can learn together how to fully surrender everything to Him.
In your normal “religious” environment Lordship is interpreted this way:
*Be ethical in all your business practices.
*Be faithful to your husband or wife.
*Don’t lie, get drunk, or be controlled by any vice.
*Attend religious services regularly.
*Help the poor when you can.
*Spend at least some of your time reaching out to the lost.
That is basically it! The list is longer for some and shorter for others but it is still missing the fundamental issue. In this faulty model your life still BELONGS to YOURSELF. You have “GUIDELINES” to live by but everything is firmly under your control. You are committed to being moral and doing some assigned duties “for God,” but at the core—no one owns you. You decide when to go to bed; how much to sleep (below overt laziness); when to eat; how much to eat (below overt gluttony); where to live; when to “vacation”; where to “vacation”; what to spend your money on (after tithing of course); when to have children; how many to have. Etc....
The list goes on and on forever. Jesus’ Lordship is sorta viewed like the U.S. Constitution was viewed when it was ratified: “Whatever powers not specifically given to the federal government belong to each individual State.” If Jesus forbids a behavior, I’ll stop that specific behavior... but my life is still my own. When anyone reads the passage where Jesus says: “Unless you forsake everything you cannot be my follower,” the quick response comes back—that means we must be WILLING to give up anything if we are asked. Since no one expects an audible voice to ask for their car, or home, or job—everyone breathes a sigh of relief and goes on to the next topic.
I think we can all see the fallacies in that way of viewing life. On the other hand, it’s still very easy to miss the mark by simply adding 100 more things to the list. In addition to your old religious paradigm, add these 50 things to your list of things to do, and add these 50 things to your list of things to stop doing. It’s more “committed” but all you end up with is a longer list. You’re not really any closer to true Lordship. You may have changed a lot of “what you do,” but you haven’t changed “whose you are” at the deepest level.
I’ve had this verse in Proverbs going through my head all week: “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” That’s what I want! I want Jesus to guide me through every aspect of EVERY DAY. But that doesn’t happen by default. I have to make the effort to “ACKNOWLEDGE” Him in everything. That means I take every aspect of life: food, sleep, “leisure time,” work ethic, co-workers, children, marriage, sports, financial management, every relationship... and hold it up in His light. All day long, every day... open handed, surrendered living. Do I sense His Favor or His disfavor on this course of action at this given moment?
Golf or help Jim work in his garage? It’s not my decision!!! In fact that’s really the bottom line—it’s not my decision. It’s possible to view Jesus’ Lordship in the same way that an 18 year old boy views his draft registration. “I’m not in the army, but I did register for the draft. If they need me—THEY’LL CALL!” I’m “willing” to do whatever God might ask of me—but until He asks I’m going to choose how to spend “my” time. That may be the “American” version of following Jesus, but it’s not the Biblical one. (In truth it’s the “committed American version.” The more common American version is, “I believe that Jesus exists and I accept His forgiveness. His grace covers all my weaknesses so I’m gonna live however I please. Now bug off.”) The fact that the first view would seem so noble only goes to show just how far we’ve fallen.
Instead, it’s our responsibility to find out what He wants us doing next!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“Seek first the Kingdom and His Righteousness” and “the Kingdom is within you.” Pursue the Kingdom. Make the Kingdom your top priority. That’s a command! He didn’t say, “Be available for the Kingdom as much as you’re able,” or “Be on call in case there is a need.” He said, “Seek it first!”
Seeking first the Kingdom is both corporate and personal. On the one hand, we live our lives with the Church, in the Church, and for the Church as brothers amongst brothers. According to the scriptures, each member BELONGS to the other members. And in another sense we seek first the Kingdom by making sure that every single aspect of our inner character, will, and priorities are under His government! That attitude—is it His Kingdom or my Kingdom? This decision—is it for His Kingdom or my Kingdom? Whose cause am I advancing?
It’s our quest each day to take every thought and make it captive. To take every attitude and bring it under subjection. To take every moment and surrender it to Him. Every relationship. Every deed. Every thought.
The real issue is: to whom does your life belong? At the core of who you are, does your life belong to you? Or have you surrendered everything: every hope of how life would turn out, every dream of what you wanted to have or to be, every fear of the future, and every decision about every aspect of your life? Who holds the reins?
King David (a type of Jesus) became king because a group of outcasts rallied around him and “determined to make Him king by force.” That same kind of violence is needed in our own hearts. Jesus will let us have it our own way if we want to. Or, we can put our necks into His light and easy yoke. It’s our choice. He won’t force Himself on us. But He will allow us, out of His mercy, to experience the poverty of soul that comes from being your own man.
*** Side Thought 1:
Now, here’s how that can make you feel if you are not viewing things correctly. 1) That’s too much work. That’s legalism. That’s too complicated. I could never live that way. If I had to ask Jesus about every little thing, I’d never get anything done. Or 2) It causes fear. If I yield everything to Jesus, then I’ll never get enough sleep, enough to eat, or ever have any fun anymore. I need to hedge my bet. I want to find a way to follow without losing my own life.
The second response is unbelief and a lack of trust in God’s character. Do you really think He wants to make you an exhausted, emaciated, stoic—running around doing good like some haggard monk? That’s ridiculous! He is a good Father. If you won’t trust Him with the complete ownership of your inner man, then you’ll never experience “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Don’t trade the porridge of self-preservation for your birthright.
On the other hand, He does like to stretch us. He wants to teach us to walk the way of the cross. There is no way to REALLY LIVE without dying. That’s the deal. But, there’s nothing to fear. The whole skit happens in the palm of His hand. A few late nights or early mornings won’t hurt us—they’ll be good for us. And a few missed meals won’t hurt either. The sacrifices we are called to make along the way, while tough at the time, are for our ultimate good. They deepen us as people and allow us to enjoy more fully the gifts that Father gives. We are not deprived by sacrifice. We are enriched!
The first response is wrong too. (In many ways, but here’s one.) It assumes that complete surrender always means we must make the “hard choice”. That’s eating from the wrong tree—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That’s how monasteries came into existence. The idea was that if I follow God with all my heart I will refuse to participate in anything my human self might like. That is just not what God is like. He invented taste buds. Food could have been bland fuel units; but He chose, as a gift to us, to give food flavor. (That’s not a license to indulge our flesh. It’s simply a declaration that God is good and LOVES to give good gifts to His children.)
How do you know that surrender to Him won’t mean more sleep instead of less? On some occasions it just might. Especially for people with a legal bent. It might mean ice cream instead of salad! It might mean reading the comic strip instead of Sparks. But, what it means most of all is that it is no longer up to us. We have surrendered the right to DECIDE and are PERFECTLY happy with either choice Father might make at any given time because we trust Him! We don’t have to chase down our own needs. We trust our Father to give us what we need when we need it. Without fear and without trying to hedge our bet by protecting ourselves.
He wants us to be useful, and set apart. He doesn’t want to see us poison ourselves by being enslaved to matrix junk. So, like a good Father, He will wean us from much of the earth’s junk. From some things He will ask us to abstain. Other things He will give us as gifts, but ask us to be self-controlled.
He loves to give good gifts to His children. Imagine baking some cookies for your children. It would break your heart if they refused to eat any because they thought you didn’t want them to eat things they liked. On the other hand, it would break your heart even more if they selfishly gorged themselves, ignoring the other children, and forgetting to say or be thankful. A gift is meant to be an expression of affection from one heart to another heart. The gift itself has no value.
Hear this: When you read a comic strip without being under His government, it’s shallowness or some kind of self indulgence. And it will leave you feeling death and separation on the inside. But, when you read a comic strip under His Government (which is very possible, you silly monk : ))—it’s fellowship! It can bring life and can actually make you sharper instead of duller.
On the flip side: when you read your Bible and you’re NOT under His Government it’s RELIGION. It won’t make you soft, it will make you hard and self-satisfied. You’ll feel real spiritual and you’ll judge other people who don’t do as many good things as you. To quote Paul: “The truth that was intended to bring life actually brought death.” Only fellowship with Jesus keeps us soft, dependent, and humble. The people who spent the most time reading “the Bible” are the ones who killed Him during His first visit here.
***Side Thought 2:
If we yield completely to His Government, then we get the complete protection the walls of His Government provide. It is not enough to live near a walled city. In order to be spared the carnage of traveling bands of raiders, we must live inside the walls of the city. Protection and Provision are for those UNDER Government.
What do I mean? If I won’t give Jesus complete control of my checkbook, then I shouldn’t expect His help controlling my appetite for food, or wandering eyes, or anything else. In fact, it’s in my best interest for Him to let me fall flat on my face. What good is having more self-control if my neck is not in His yoke? It sends me the wrong message. “Be a basically nice guy and I’ll help you be strong when temptation comes.” Why? It only serves to anchor my non-dependent living.
When the rich young ruler felt a void in his life, he came to Jesus to get help. He had been a “good boy” all of his life, but somehow on the inside he knew he was missing something. What did Jesus tell him? “Just be more generous with your money—that might do the trick”? Nope. “Let Go! Let Go of ALL OF IT and come follow Me! All of your wealth, your status, and your position as a ruler—walk away from it and follow Me.”
That’s not the answer he wanted to hear. There is a good chance, given all we are told about him, that he would have responded to an answer that only demanded more commitment, as long as he got to stay in control. “Give 50% of your earnings to found a charity. You can even be president if you like.” He, most likely, would have jumped at that option. Then he would have still “belonged” to himself. But the void in his heart would have been just as large. In order to find Zoe life—life without beginning or end (which was what he was asking to find), he needed to relinquish complete control of his own existence.
It is the same with us. In order to find our lives we must lose them. There is no other way. And the outworking of that is a passionate pursuit of the Lordship of the Spirit of Jesus. Then the government can be on His shoulders where it belongs. We weren’t meant to rule our own lives, and when we try, it only leads to misery. Open your palms, look Him in the eye, and ask Him as sincerely as you know how, “What next Jesus?” (And, as you work through that, ask those around you to help you sort out your motives so you can hear Him more clearly without the prejudice of your own wants blinding you to His voice.)