Why Jesus places this claim on our lives
We relocated from Moruya to Tweed Heads in December 2005 to replicate the Athlete Respite Ministry for six SE Qld Sports Units with the Australian Institute of Sport. Delma my wife and I began to attend the Banora Point Baptist Church where we met another family (both school teachers) who had recently moved from Binnaway. Ian and Tracey Carlson, who like Delma and I, have a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ian Carlson is a few years younger than me, but within months of relocating he was diagnosed with Lymphoma (there are 35 types of Lymphoma cancer). The Education Department issued him Medical Retirement and over the past four years he'd undergone various chemotherapy and bone marrow treatments all of which have not worked as we'd hoped and as we'd prayed.
He kept himself occupied as the local SES Controller (Ian was awarded the 2009 Northern Rivers Volunteer of the Year) and he became my ministry helper and accompanies me to the various SE Qld AIS Sport Units. Ian is also one of my video volunteer camera men for the Australian Missionary News IPTV interviews.
Recently, Ian Carlson sent me a summary of his medical update: After a lengthy detailed analysis which was far from positive, he wrote, I know that my life is in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ and I have confidence in Him in both life and death."
Ian Carlson is very much aware that his physical body has a very specific use-by date. Yet, he speaks of the claim Jesus has on his life. This is a claim every follower of Jesus somehow recognises from the time they offer their lives to the Lord.
The question is
Why does Jesus place such a claim on those who follow Him, and why is there such a willing response by His followers?
The first Commandment is pretty clear. Thou shalt have no other god's before me. (Exodus Chapter 20 verse 3). The text then explains what this means -
"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; Thor shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God …."
We can name any number of things today that fall into this category: Career, romance, the things we have, fashion, sports, fine wine, appetites (gluttony, sexual) …... the list can go on and on. Anything that puts the Lord second.
Jesus said in Luke Chapter 9 verse 23: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me …. for whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him the Son of Man (Jesus) shall be ashamed."
Statement: There is no compromise here. The follower of Jesus recognises they have given their life to a new Master, Jesus. In everything they do and think and comprehend, a new world view has taken over. This is, Jesus first. There is no second place with Him.
Last month I spelt out a simple set of words when someone takes Jesus as their Lord.
The next step is just as simple, yet overwhelming and astonishingly challenging. And an unspeakable freeing up of one's soul.
It is - Jesus first.
In my next Pastoral letter (July) I'll discuss "real time dramas in being a follower of Jesus".