Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I have learned a lesson on my way to work this morning. The traffic was really bad on highway 280 from my home. I thought I could find a short cut by taking Skyline Blvd. The traffic appeared to be very smooth on Highway 1 until I reached Skyline; the traffic jam was even worse because the traffic light was out of order. I was on the far right merging lane. The traffic was so slow that people did not yield. So instead of fighting myself into the left lane, I took off to Pacifica on Hicky Blvd, assuming to by pass the traffic light by going through the side street. Then I ran into another traffic jam because of road repair. At the end, it took me much longer time than following slow traffic on 280. I was reminded that this experience could apply to our choices in life. Our Lord said, “Enter through narrow gate (slow traffic for sure)…for the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life” (Matthew 7:13-14). The more I try to find an easy way out for life, the more frustration I may invite into my own life, which may even end with self-destruction. It is better to stick with the narrow gate or Biblical principle, even though it may feel like taking forever to reach our destiny!
"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15). Our Lord never insists upon obedience; He tells us very emphatically what we ought to do, but He never takes means to make us do it. We have to obey Him out of a oneness of spirit. That is why whenever Our Lord talked about discipleship, He prefaced it with an IF - you do not need to unless you like. "If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself," let him give up his right to himself to Me. Our Lord is not talking of eternal positions or salvation, but of being of value to Himself in this order of things, that is why He sounds so severe. If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26). Never interpret these words apart from the One Who uttered them.
The Lord does not give me rules, He makes His standard very clear, and if my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without any hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love some one else in competition with Him, and that is myself. Jesus Christ will not help me to obey Him, I must obey Him; and when I do obey Him, I fulfill my spiritual destiny. My personal life may be crowded with small petty incidents, altogether unnoticeable and mean; but if I obey Jesus Christ in the disorganized circumstances, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God, and when I stand face to face with God I will discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed. Once God's Redemption comes to the point of obedience in a human soul, it always generates creativity in ministry. If I obey Jesus Christ, the Redemption of God will rush through me to other lives, because behind the deed of obedience is the Reality of Almighty God.
I find this insight from Brother Chambers to be very precious. The deed of obedience is the reality of God – it is the work and presence of God that generates the deed of obedience. When we see a person’s willingness to obey God, it represents his or her encountering of the reality of God. No one can force a person to leave his high pay profession and his comfort zone, to serve God in a remote country of the world out of obedience to His call, in making disciples of all nations. This obedience does not derive from fear of punishment or religious duty. It is motivated by a heart of thanksgiving, joy and desire to touch God’s heart.
We are saved by faith not good deeds or deeds of obedience. It is all because of what Christ has done on the cross and what He continues to do in our heart. It takes a life time to learn the lesson of self-denial. If our salvation depends on our self-denial, we have no assurance of salvation at all. But praise God that we are saved by faith – identify with the death of Christ in my life. And out of such assurance, I seek to imitate Christ and put Him first over everything else including my own life. Just as Brother Paul said, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8). The passion of Paul’s pursuit of Christ was not out of fear of losing his salvation or desire to secure his salvation. On a contrary, Paul would desire Christ more than even his own salvation in accordance to his own word, “I consider EVERYTHING a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing (affective knowing) Christ.” Father God, help me treasure Christ more than anything on earth. Amen.
Love you because of Christ,