This past week as I visited school campuses in Morgan county I stood and listened to a young man share with his classmates about what is required to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. He shared from a familiar passage in the gospels where our Lord is teaching that we must deny ourselves and take up our own cross and follow Him. The point that he made that stuck out to me and has continued to resonate was his statement to follow Jesus we must be submitted and committed.
Jesus allowed many to follow Him and listen to His teaching and to experience His signs and miracles. However, before He opened Himself to sharing the deep things of God He required a true commitment that could only come through submission to death. He would call His followers to a cross and He would show them what it looked like to carry it. Jesus never requires of others what He has not already carried out Himself.
True followers of Christ must be submitted to the will of God and committed to the Word of God. Jesus came to this world as the Word made flesh to show us what this really looked like and how it is lived out in actuality and not just theory. He carried out the will of God and stayed true to the Word of God every where He went, no matter who He was around. He could stand behind a pulpit that morning and dine with prostitutes that night and never deny the Father or grieve the Holy Spirit.
Jesus showed us what it means to be in the world, but not of it. Jesus showed us how to not be friends with the world, and yet still so love the people in it that we go into all the world and make disciples. Jesus taught us how to never speak harshly to a blind lost soul, and also how to never back down from a legalistic judgmental Bible distorter who does… no matter how many they gather to their side.
Jesus could do this and never be stained by it. He could do this because He had no sin within and no sin on Him. He could do this and remain unblemished because He was God in the flesh, full of grace and truth. The only time He carried sin, was when He took on ours to carry it to the grave. He buried it there and He rose from that grave because death could not hold Him because the wages of sin is death and He had no wage of His own to pay. He paid ours; and then He rose fully God, fully man, fully alive from all eternity.
Before His substitutionary death, after His bodily resurrection, and before His heavenly ascension to the Father He commissioned us to go and continue the work He started in the way He demonstrated. However, He knew that while we remained on this earth, we would remain in this flesh. The weight of sin would no longer be on us but the war with sin would continue to be a battle within us. He taught us how to deal with this as He knelt before a know it all Peter and explained to him that although he was clean because of the Word of God, his feet would still get dirty and he needed to know that Jesus would always be there to wash His feet.
When we choose to be brave enough to step out as followers of Christ and be His ambassador in this world, the real world, the one that is all nasty and perverse and crooked, and we choose to actually get close enough to be the Light in it, then it never fails that there will be times when some of it “gets on us”. Jesus knew that it would, that’s why He was willing to sit before us ready to wash it off so that we could get back out there and salt on. It’s easy to appear to stay all nice and clean when you place yourself inside your self-made kingdom and attempt to control everything and everyone inside of it. However, I believe Jesus had rather us be brave enough to take the chance on getting dirty because we have enough faith in Him to get us clean again without us ever destroying our witness for Him before those that it really matters.
Those that are truly suffering in this life and striving with sin can see through a condescending offering of the gospel. They can tell when the Bible verse is being shared with an air of arrogance and superiority. A high horse is always easily spotted from those who are walking on the ground.
Our family has learned that we had rather stay on the ground and do what we can to be the salt and light and have to return again and again and again to our Jesus to get our feet washed than to ride on that high horse keeping our feet all clean in the stirrups. This is what it is for us to die to ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. This is what it is for us to be submitted and committed to Jesus. It means we will get rejected again and again by both those who don’t like our Light and by those who don’t like our sometimes dirty feet. It’s not easy. It’s humbling. It flat out gets our feelings hurt repeatedly… but it’s also rewarding. The Lord is always faithful to remind us why He has us where He does.
Our family is not perfect, but we are indeed perfectly loved and we need no one’s approval but God’s. We are submitted and committed to the will and Word of God and we are brave enough to trust Him to keep us from the evil one as we step into this world that is ruled by the prince of darkness in order to be a laborer in it sowing the seed of the gospel.
We choose to love God and love people, all people. We choose to risk wading through muck and mire in the hopes that we are able to grab a few by the collar and pull them out with us. We are thankful for those that choose to jump in that muck and mire with us. It can get awful messy at times, but it ain’t nothing that Jesus can’t wash off.