For years I have wondered why Jesus spoke of surrender to Himself differently from one individual to the next. From what I can tell, He never used a clear cut formula when calling people to come and “follow Him.” What was the connection between the vastly different ways Jesus approached the hearts and minds of lost people? After many years of personal study and fascination with the kingdom of God, I have come to see that Jesus’ preoccupation with the Kingdom lies at the heart of the matter.
Jesus announced His terms of surrender to each individual He encountered.
It would seem that, in every case, Jesus was confronting the issue that lay at the heart of keeping each person out of His Father’s Kingdom. When we neglect to understand this properly, Jesus’ lack of a “standardized approach” could begin to feel puzzling? After all, isn’t their only one way to be saved? (see Romans 10:9; John 14:6 etc.) What we see in Jesus’ encounters, however, is his masterful way of getting to the heart of each person. He consistently framed conversations in terms of “God’s kingdom” versus “our kingdom”. In this way, each individualized conversation begins to fall into a discernible pattern.
When we attempt to determine what the kingdom issue was in each of Jesus’ encounters, I believe the answer is revealing. Like every one of us, the people Jesus interacted with had developed their own kingdoms. There were aspects of life they felt compelled to retain control over. These control and ego issues are a part of every human life. When the King offers to rule and reign in us, our preferred options are suddenly in the spotlight.
If you are like me, it can be a daily temptation to build a kingdom of my own which is always at odds with Christ’s kingdom. In such a life, Christianity becomes a veneer; a façade behind which our ancient nemesis of “self-in-control” still seeks to thrive.
As I heard our pastor recently quote from Romans:
“14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” – Romans 13:14 ESV
I look forward to having you all at our next Life Together gathering on November 6th at 6:30 pm at Alan and Torree O’Kains home. After this we will meet one last time in the year 2011 on November 20th also at the O’Kain’s home. Look forward to seeing you!