I have very little concern as to whether I am one of the least or greatest in the Kingdom of God, especially compared to my great concern as to whether or not you, friend are part of it. I do not work at this life in order to earn more favor or providence or a higher title. I work because it is my calling and it is a blessed opportunity to be able to serve the Lord.
I say this because many talk about God for their own reasons. Many go to church for their own reasons. Many volunteer and serve their fellow man for their own reasons. How many are simply surrendered to their calling, their opportunity to participate, not out of obligation but as a heart response to His work? I don’t know about your reasons, I just know my own and I’ll share that with you today.
I do not chase Christ because I am fearful of His wrath and punishment. Because I have a promise in the Word, and the blessed assurance of a changed direction, and the blessed testimony of this new life that He has called me into. And I do not love this life or this world, but I seek to exercise dominion over it through self control and obedience that is born out of gratitude for the shed blood on the cross – by walking in the Spirit not in the flesh, by making disciples of the nations, and by baptizing in His name.
What a wild and peculiar statement from a sinner such as me! Right? While Paul had many accolades about his past as a faithful Jew and he says that he counts it all as lost for the sake of knowing Christ and he calls himself the foremost sinner – I have no claim by blood, no claim by my own righteous living, no claim by my keeping the law faithfully, no claim by attending and keeping the traditions of the religious my whole life. No, I have the testimony of a life that was chained down by sin and imperfection and selfishness and pride and rebellion – until He touched me.
He touched my life and made me new. He touched my heart and made me whole. He did this to me, so I have no claim. No claim on any “good” that you might see evidence of in my life today. No claim on any preaching that I might share with you. No claim on any food that I might share with the hungry. No claim on any shelter that I might offer to the needy. No claim on any encouragement that I might offer for the imprisoned and the persecuted. No claim on any healing that I might bring to the sick and afflicted. No claim on any drink given to the thirsty. Because I’m just a vessel, the work is His. Any crown laid upon my head is not for me to claim as a King, but to lay at His feet as a Servant.
I pray that we will not stop to gather up and build a kingdom – when we are called to make and send out disciples. I pray that we will not grow weary and sit idle keeping this Good News hidden under a lampshade – but that we will shine forth like a city on a hill. I pray that we will not let temptation and the tricks of the enemy steal, kill, and destroy our testimony through guilt and shame, but that we will believe that He is faithful to forgive so that we will confess our sin and stand back up after a fall with a new testimony of His sufficient grace.
Don’t call yourself a Christian because you only fear the hell that you know you deserve for your past disobedience – repent, believe, and walk as a new creation – free from the burdens of guilt and shame to walk in the path that He has set before you. Enter the narrow gate of HOPE found in Jesus Christ, and walk the narrow path of LOVE for your God and your brothers and sisters, and may all eyes be opened to this shining testimony of your FAITH and of Christ who lives in you.
Don’t work your way into religion and tradition and the philosophies of men, trying to prove yourself worthy of a perfect, holy, righteous God. Lay down your pride. Lay down the stench of your filthy self righteousness, and put on that new garment, trusting in His righteousness. Lay down all claims, whether it be your sin, your pride, or your strivings, and surrender it all to your Lord and Savior. FOR IF YOU CLAIM A PART, DO YOU NOT OWN THE WHOLE, BUT IF YOU SURRENDER THE WHOLE, HOW CAN YOU CLAIM ANY PART?
You cannot set yourself free. You are no god. You are not worthy. But you do have value and purpose in His Kingdom, when He lives in you and through you – to press you forward in these good works prepared ahead of time for you. Step into your calling friend, and let Him have His way with your life – and may He receive all the glory and praise. Amen.
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. – Galatians 2:15-21 ESV