“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Our fear should be exclusively for the Almighty God, who holds our breath in His hands. We revere Him, honour Him and obey Him, because of who He is. We don’t need to fear people, because the worst they can do is kill our body. They cannot touch our soul, which is safe in Christ. People might tell us to go to hell, but only Jesus has those keys. We must work for our Lord with a great and holy boldness and walk this sin-sick world with joy in His presence. No one can pluck us from His hand.
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”
My vocal words of witness for Christ are tied in with my place in the heavenly city. If I am too shy, or too weak in faith to speak for Him who loved me and gave Himself for me, I have no place in that place. I don’t even have to deny the Lord, just not say anything at all. If I cannot bring myself to try, or teach myself to speak up, Jesus will not own me as His own. The Saviour of the world must be shared everywhere. To deny others the joy of hearing and knowing Him, is to deny Him. The place in the kingdom is forfeit. Yet if I speak of Him and share, teach and uphold Him, He will uphold me before the face of His Father in heaven.
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
This is a difficult saying because it pulls at our most sensitive heart-strings. Our first love is for family and we look to family for our sense of belonging. The fifth commandments tells us to honour our father and mother, so that we can live long and productive lives. Is this command over-teaching the commandment? Patently not. We usually love parents, but never more than Christ. To love earthly family more than your Saviour, means you do not have a clear understanding of what He did for you.
Christ comes first and His work on earth comes first. This shouldn’t clash for attention. But if God is calling you do go somewhere outside your family and country, you must go. We should never use the reason about family needs to stop us doing God’s work.
If I put family needs before obedience to my Lord and God, I am on the wrong track. God will order all things so that when we obey, He will work out our life arrangements for the blessing of all.
It is the same principle with our children. They must never take the place of or overtake our life or love for Jesus. This is a very difficult realisation. Our children are so precious to us, but not as precious as the Lord. No matter how close we feel to our daughters and sons, they are still loved far more by the Lord Jesus, than we ever could. To put them before Christ and we are sowing the seeds of unbelief in their hearts.
We will also be saying to Jesus, that He is not that special to us, and we don’t particularly need Him. We will show a complete irreverence for what He did for us on the cross. We fail to realise our total dependence on Him and our faith rests on someone outside of the Lord. In a sense we are never worthy of Him, and yet we are made worthy and given strength to walk worthy. There are those who give all for Christ and they will be rewarded in the kingdom of God.
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
The Christian life is tough. We are called to lift up and walk with our cross, bearing His reproach. There is no life in God without the cross. There is no easy way. The pathway includes, temptation, persecution, sacrifice, loss, weariness, shame and reproof. If we decide not to go on this way, we are castaways. We loose our lives and eternity too.
If I should build a life for myself on Earth, I will loose it.
All our work for this life, cannot it be taken into heaven. We will loose it when we die and go into eternity. But more, because we chose the things of this life over the next, it shows we have no taste for the spiritual life with God. We will get what we have chosen. Life now, and no eternal life.
But there are those who give up the right to the things of this world. They follow God and grow in spiritual stature, and become like Christ. Their citizenship is in heaven where they belong because of Christ. These Christians go in to maturity and bear rich fruit for God and His kingdom. The kingdom does come in their lives and they obey God’s will as if they were already in heaven.
There are Christians in every generation who actually loose their physical lives for the sake of Christ and the spread of the gospel. These are richly rewarded for this loss. They themselves count themselves unworthy to bear such an honour as to die for their Saviour.
May we have such love for Jesus Christ that all earthly considerations fade away, and become opportunities for faith and love.