Basic summary of the sermons/passages I've been challenged by this week: We are not saved from sin and hell so that we can then just keep on living for ourselves and what this world has to offer. That is not real salvation. It's not a prayer you pray or a "moment of decision"....it is a lifetime of being shaped and molded into more and more of who God wants us to be. It's being a "living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1-2). It means being willing to give up all the comforts of this world because we know they are just fleeting. It means letting go of that American "entitled" mindset and realizing that none of this STUFF matters in light of eternity. If we are not willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel, we are not able to truly spread the gospel. The gospel being THIS: That we are completely and fully sinners, only capable of evil and selfishness....rescued and redeemed by a perfect Savior who loves us in spite of ourselves, and who in turn, gives us the opportunity and PRIVILEGE of living our lives truly dedicated to doing whatever it takes to share this message. Even LOSING our lives, if that's what it takes.
How much time and energy do I devote to this? Am I considered extreme, radical, crazy, and foolish? I hope so....I pray so! Because Jesus said the world will hate true believers, and that this message will go so far as to divide even the closest of families. The truth of His Word is infinitely more important than any family relationship...or any relationship. Which am I choosing? Am I willing to lay it all down? We can't have it both ways. We can't deny ourselves AND get everything we want out of life. We can't follow Christ AND "follow our dreams"....we can't "serve two masters" (again, words spoken by Jesus!) I get so passionate about this because it has taken most of my life to realize these things, and I still struggle to overcome my desire to focus on what the world has to offer. These can be "good" things, too. But a good thing that is put before God is no longer a good thing. I praise God for the sermons He has directed me to this week and the reminder that the desires for comfort, ease, happiness, and entertainment come from a deeper desire in all of us for something greater than this world could ever offer. It's that relationship with Christ, it's the kingdom we look forward to, it's worshiping Him for eternity...THIS will be the fulfillment of those desires. One of the quotes I heard could be paraphrased that when we seek the pleasures of this world, it's not that we are overwhelmed with that desire, but that we don't desire it ENOUGH. Because the REAL blessing, joy, and satisfaction comes after this life, in the arms of Jesus, dancing for and praising the King for ever and ever. This is what we live for. This is what should get us excited every single day.....PLEASE dear brother and sister, do not let yourself be blinded by the here and now. It will not matter when we meet our Savior, so don't let it matter now!