Thought- He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he can never lose.” –Missionary Jim Elliot
Scripture- “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
Insight: In day 7 of learning to apply biblical principles to our daily life, what we are referring to as Practical Christianity, let’s consider what it means to surrender our lives fully to Jesus, to deny ourselves, pick up our Cross and be crucified with him. I mean, just writing this is a lot to take in. How can we possibly accomplish this and what does it even mean? I have struggled with these teachings for many years, but thankfully people much smarter than me have helped me not only better understand them but have taught me how to practically apply them day to day in my life. Deep in our core, there is a struggle that exists in every person that wants to do things their own way. That makes God’s way at odds with our way. The two are incompatible. Most people mistakenly think of this struggle as one of giving up control to God. They are terrified that somehow all the fun will disappear from their life and that God is like a traffic cop with a radar gun standing behind a billboard just waiting to bust us every time we break a commandment. But, I have found it to be just the opposite. He frees us up to enjoy life more as we gain freedom from the bondage of our sin.
I will be very honest here, there have been many times in my faith walk over the last 15 years when following Jesus, and surrendering to Him, has seemed hard, if not impossible, and has left me feeling burned out and depleted of energy. But I have come to realize when that happens, it is not His fault, it is mine! It is because I have forgotten the verses from Matthew 11:28-30 that His “yoke is Easy and his burden is light.” I have misguidedly placed a heavy burden on myself to work harder to please him, instead of just walking beside him in a beautiful love relationship that is “free of condemnation,” as Romans 8:1 proclaims. In these instances, I have forgotten to see the Kingdom of God as a Child’s inheritance, rather than a servant’s pay. It always is a matter of alignment in thought, action and deed that makes all the difference. We do good deeds for humanity not because we must, but because we may, out of the love Christ has shown us. The legalism of religious systems is a burden, following Jesus should not be. Eugene Peterson in The Message describes the verse above from Matthew 11: 28-30 in a way that brings this all into perspective and helps me get free of feeling burdened and back into feeling set free by my relationship with Jesus Christ. He puts it this way: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Now that is something worth surrendering your life for!
Prayer: Father God, help us to always realize that you have what is best for us because you love us as your adopted children. You gave us Jesus to set us captives free. Help us to always remember that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Help us to simply surrender to the fact that what He wants for us is better for us than what we want for ourselves. We pray this in Jesus’s mighty name. Amen!