Sunday, July 19, 2015

Who Is Your Ultimate Authority?

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?” (John 6:60-61)

To walk away from Christ because there are teachings in the Bible or Book of Mormon that offends you supposes that if there is a God he would not have any notions or opinions that upset you.  Does this viewpoint really make sense?  If we do not trust the scriptures enough to let them challenge our traditions and opinions, how then could we ever have a personal relationship with the God who gave those scriptures in the first place?

Just as in our personal relationships any real relationship with Christ portends that the other party has the ability to contradict you.  When Jesus challenges our thoughts and traditions he is also challenging our hearts.  The gift of true Salvation in Christ is free.  It truly is a come as you are party.  BUT, the path of true Discipleship is going to cost us something.

Discipleship or Self Determination?

“And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-60)

Our lives are full of contradictions.  In fact we face contradictory choices every day.  Do I go to the gym or do I sleep in?  Do go to work or stay home?  Do I spend time with my family or is the Basketball game more important?  Do I follow the words of Christ or do I follow the words of a man?  Do I reach out to those who stand in need or do I look the other way?

Even our Father Jacob wrestled with God and it is possible that that wrestle may not just have been a physical wrestling but a wrestling between contradictory choices.  The outcome of his wrestling and choosing of God was that of being given the new name of Israel.  In fact, in giving him this new name God gave him a new identity.  Jacob was dead and as a result of his inconvenient wrestling match with the God of Heaven and Earth he was blessed.  He was now a new man. A Man of God!  His past sins and transgressions were taken away and he went forth to establish the Covenant People of Israel.

With a change in identity comes a change in priorities.  Our choices (wrestling) determine our outcome as a well.  Following Christ is more than just inconvenient to our past identities and walk it is also incompatible with our past identities and walk.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5: 17-19)

Sometimes it appears that the Words of Christ are harsh and contradictory.  The reason they appear so is because like a two edged sword they require us to make a choice between our wills and the will of another.
This would be disciple in the Book of Luke faced a choice that we face as well.  Even as we express our willingness to follow Christ we also want to set the terms of the relationship.  In making his offering on his own terms, he was setting forth his will to set the terms of the relationship.  Thus we discover the cost of true discipleship—for true discipleship can tolerate no other man, doctrine, tradition, church, or priesthood head to come between our obedience and loyalty to Jesus Christ.

True discipleship to Christ requires complete surrender to the authority of Christ. We are not saved by anything we have done, but once redeemed there is something to be done.  It is like a marriage.  It only takes a moment to get married but the relationship is a journey over a lifetime and into the eternities. While salvation happens in a moment true discipleship is also a journey and a relationship of a lifetime that extends into the eternities.

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