Archive for May 2016

God, Family, Religious duties, Job…[Part 2]   Leave a comment

Priorities

Priorities

As mentioned in the previous post, when God is the one leading our life, He will properly guide us in the way we should prioritize our time towards our family, work, ministry and others. Unless God has given clear orders, we should not change the priorities He has set. We will see in this post cases where Jesus has specifically called out men and women to leave their family and occupations to follow Him.

  1. Come and follow me

He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead!Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.  But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-62

Both of these 2 men agreed to follow Jesus. However, when Jesus called them to do ministry, they pointed out to their responsibilities towards their family. They wanted to wait and set in order their affairs at home. The issue with this reasoning is that the zeal to follow Jesus will vanish if we do not instantly choose to obey. If God calls now to do something and we choose now to do something else, we will most likely be entangled in that choice and will never be able to fulfill what God called us to do.

2. The excuses to reject God’s invitation

In the Parable of the Great feast, the guests gave excuses and rejected God’s invitation.

But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’  Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’  Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.”

Their replies seemed legitimate. These are common excuses we hear in the church today: Business duty, family responsibilities and unwillingness to leave possession.

Jesus wanted to clearly teach his disciples that it will not just cost something but everything if someone chooses to follow Jesus. If we want to be a disciple, we are putting at stake our possession, relationships, job, family and even our life if we want to be a follower of Jesus.

3. The cost of following Jesus

This is why in Luke 14:25 Jesus clearly said that we should think well before we choose to follow Him as it might imply disruption in our relationship with the family and put us in discomfort. Loving Jesus more than our family members implies that we are ready to be considered hating them because of our choice to obey Jesus.

  • Leaving Job and Family

Jesus went to the working place of Matthew who was a tax collector to call him to be His follower:

Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.” Luke 5:27

Matthew left on the spot his job to follow Jesus. Matthew did not care of leaving everything, he just obeyed the one who called despite the consequences.

It was the same for James and John who immediately left their boat and their father to follow Jesus. These disciples like Peter and Andrew fished for a living. Following Jesus implied that they would have less time or no time to fish. Some of them were married and I wondered what they told their families on that day when they came home without money or fish. What did Zebedee think of his sons? If you were one of these disciples, what would you do if your family asked you: “Who do you love most, Jesus or us?”. Do you fear be called a radical follower of Jesus?

Peter who was a married man said:

We’ve left our homes to follow you.”“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.” Luke 18:29

  • Forsaking possessions

Jesus once said to a rich man:

There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22

Unfortunately, many people have not been saved and will not be saved because their hearts are set on possession. We cannot serve God and Mammon Jesus said (Mat. 6:64).

4. When the priorities clash with expectations

Mary’s priority was to listen to the teachings of Jesus while Marthe was busy preparing the dinner. Well, if Marthe did not take her responsibility of preparing the dinner then what were they going to eat?

Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42

There was incomprehension. It seemed unfair that Marthe was doing the house chores to welcome the guests while her sister sat and did nothing. Jesus’ reply rightly pointed out the priority. Being at the feet of Jesus was more important than preparing dinner. For Mary, food for the soul was more important than ordinary food.  Jesus was not going to be at Mary’s place for a long time and she wanted to get the most of Jesus’ presence.

There was this woman who choose to give something of great value to Jesus. She was blamed for wasting money because of her love gift to Jesus. Her love for Jesus was considered folly by those who were just acquaintance to Jesus. Jesus said: “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me?  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” Mat. 26:10

5. How can I be sure what God is asking me to do?

We could say that these disciples and people mentioned in this post physically saw Jesus and this is why they had this motivation and strengths to leave everything to follow Jesus. Or maybe we could say:

How then does this apply to me for the context is different. If Jesus Himself appeared to me like He did with Paul then I will be sure that it is God who is asking me to leave everything

Our relationship with Christ allows us to know Him more. When we know Him more, our faith is built up through life’s experience. When we have experienced that God has been faithful to us, we become more confident and dare to live more by faith in the Son of God. This is a cycle which continues and makes us more mature.

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

When we know God, we discern His voice like a sheep discerns the voice of the shepherd. We will not be tossed by our emotions or the many voices calling for our attention. When the Shepherds calls, we just leave our occupation(ministry, family, work..) on the spot to listen to Him.

It is often easier to say “No” to God “because He understands” than “No” to earthly responsibilities. This is a life struggle because we do not see God but see people and react on our emotions. Only spiritual maturity or faith in the Son of God can give us the boldness required to have an undivided attention to God’s plan.

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Posted May 21, 2016 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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