Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Choices We Make

The options we have in life
Many of us encounter the Lord Jesus Christ in the middle of everything we have going on in life. God has that ability to meet us smack dab in the middle of our busyness in "living" to offer us an invitation that leaves us with only TWO choices to consider. 

We oftentimes see how Jesus offers an individual these choices when one encounters Him. His usual invitation is the simple phrase, "Come follow Me." But such is an invitation that is easier "heard than obeyed." Many of us find it too difficult to choose to follow Christ because of the high cost of following the Savior. But if we truly sit down and consider the options we have, we will soon realize that we have the best chance with what Christ has in store for us!

Option #1: PERFECTION!
The rich young man in Matthew 19 who approached Jesus asking Him about having eternal life was serious with his query. In simpler terms we put it as a query on how to "get to heaven." I totally understand why of all questions he could ask the Lord this was the one he came up with. Who doesn't want to get to heaven, anyway? 

Majority of the people you meet in this life would always want to be in that better place. They would usually want to know HOW to eventually end up in that perfect place of bliss. And so this rich young man had raised up a very important question that we all would like to know the answer to.

Jesus didn't hesitate to uphold God's Law as soon as He replied. He immediately told the young man about following God's commandments. I truly find it impressive, though, that the young man responded by saying he's done everything that was written in the Law since his childhood. I mean, I'm not even close to keeping HALF of them! Now this young man had done it! Listen to what he said, 
"All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" (Matthew 19:20)

I am sure that Jesus, being Omniscient, knew just that. But I believe the Savior deliberately started off with God's commandments in order to present to the young man a Truth that we all must encounter in our lifetime. Jesus wasn't impressed with what "good works" we are able to do in life. It isn't enough to get us eternal life! Jesus stressed the fact that IF indeed we rely on our own good works, we MUST be PERFECT in every way with it! Just listen to what he said in reply,

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:21-22, KJV)

You see, beloved, heaven is a perfect place which requires us to BE PERFECT in order for us to be there! God's ways are perfect. His ways are pure. There is no hint of imperfection anywhere around Him. And so we MUST become perfect, too, if we long to be in that place with Him. 

The young man was a good person, no doubt about that! But he wasn't perfect because HE STILL LACKED something. He needed to be PERFECT in every way in order to get to heaven.

And one thing more, the Word of God has to say this about the Law...

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight
for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20)

Option #2: Follow Jesus
Unfortunately for all of us, nobody is perfect. The Bible clearly tells us that we ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God! (see Romans 3:23) And no matter how much we try to be GOOD and do all the works of righteousness in this lifetime, the taint of sin in our lives makes our good works still stand as FILTHY RAGS before the throne of the PERFECTLY HOLY GOD! (see Isaiah 64:6)

What then is our hope, you ask? Well, the hope we have lies in the very words of Jesus as He replied to the rich young man. "
"Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."
Jesus didn't say to the guy go and sell all that you have and give to the poor in order for you to have eternal life. He said go and sell and give in order for you to have treasure in heaven. The "good works" we do to others doesn't really GET US TO HEAVEN. We may have a reward waiting in heaven BUT it is NEVER the way to have eternal life!!! What is THE WAY? I'm glad you asked...
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: 
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)
Are you seeing this, beloved? Jesus clearly tells us that the only way to get to heaven, to have eternal life is THROUGH HIM. That is why all this time He's been telling people everywhere, "Come follow me!" What will your response be?

Tough choices
The young man found that option too costly for him. He realized he couldn't let go of what he has in life in order to follow the Savior. You see, when we make a choice, we only take ONE option. We can never choose both. 

When we encounter the Truth of the Savior being the ONLY Way to the Father, we have to make a tough decision. Should we go on with what we're so used to, trying hard to do it OUR WAY and be as good as we can be but still come short of perfection? Or should we drop everything we are so accustomed to and leave all that behind in order to follow Jesus Christ?

Tough decision? Yes. Impossible to make the right one? No. 

There's a LOT of people in Jesus' time who encountered him and came to heed His invitation IMMEDIATELY! No questions asked, no bargaining done. And there are some today who, by the Grace of God, are able to SEE the ONLY HOPE we have in Christ and without hesitation drop everything to follow the Savior.

Take the brothers James and John. The sons of Zebedee were among the first disciples called out by Jesus (see Matthew 4:21-22). They were fishermen and on the day that they encountered Jesus, they were with their father mending their nets. I learned that nets only need mending after a great harvest, so this family must have had a good-standing fishing business in Galilee.

Now I truly believe they were a well-off family, too. Why? Because the Bible gives us the impression that they must have owned the boat. When the brothers followed the Lord, their father Zebedee was left with the "hired men" working for them (see Mark 1:20).

Same invitation, same class in life, totally different response. The Bible tells us that they immediately left the ship and their father and followed Jesus (see Matthew 4:22). They dropped their nets, which I bet was pretty much their family's symbol of everything at that time, and followed Jesus. They left their father behind, who I bet was one of the most important people in their lives, and they followed Him. No second thinking. No doubts about the Savior.

What about you, beloved? What do you have in your life that is making it difficult for you to follow Jesus? What is it that you hold dear that is keeping you from following the LORD? Who is it that you treasure the most that you are unwilling to leave behind in order to follow the ONLY way to the Father in heaven?

We all are "rich" with something  just like the young man who approached Jesus. We can be rich with material stuff for one, but we can also be "rich" with the traditions we've been accustomed to, or the teachings of belief systems that we've held dear for so long. We can be "rich" with relationships that we may tend to value more than the relationship we can have with the Savior. 

Just remember, beloved, we only have TWO CHOICES. Don't wait until it's too late. As Joshua said, "Choose ye THIS DAY whom ye will serve..." Tomorrow may already be too late.

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