(…continued) Our faith in Jesus is not just one aspect of our busy lives; it is not just one of the many plates we have to keep spinning as we run around doing all kinds of other important things. Our faith in Jesus is the source of our life, the ground of our very being, the guide for all that we do, and our only hope for anything beyond our few, short years here. Everything you are and everything you have will one day disappear. As Job said in the Old Testament, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away;” and then in an instant it will all be gone and you will be gone.
But along with this brief life, God gives a promise of an eternal life in his heavenly home to all who will hear it and pay attention to it and believe it. Only your faith in that promise found in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior will last. You must not go overboard in your dedication to your job, you must not go overboard in an obsession with a hobby, you must not go overboard with sports or TV or movies or yard-work, and there is a hundred other things you must not go overboard on. But it is not wrong to go overboard with Jesus. Jesus is already everything.
Yes, one can be wrong about religion and go overboard for Jesus in all the wrong ways. One can even make the mistake of using religion to neglect other legitimate God-given responsibilities. That is something different, and we do have to be careful. But then the challenge is to follow Jesus better and smarter— but not with less devotion or enthusiasm.
This certainly does not mean that everybody has to drop everything and go off to Sudan or Kenya. But it does mean, as Paul says in Colossians, that “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father… working at it with all your heart… for it is Lord Christ you are serving.” So whatever you do, seek to please God— whether by honesty, when it would be more profitable to cheat; by telling the truth, when it would be easier to lie; by staying faithful even when tempted to be unfaithful; by being contented and thankful, when you might have a tendency to be dissatisfied and jealous; by keeping your promises, in sickness and in health, even when sickness goes on and on, year after year; by doing your work, even when it seems like it is more than your fair share; by being gracious when it would be so easy to be peevish and mean-spirited; and by taking the time for regular prayer and worship, even when you would rather be doing something else. “Whatever you do,” says the Bible, “do it all in the name of Jesus.”
As a pastor I get to know a lot of people. I hear their stories, and I know that the crosses some of them are called to bear in this life are even more difficult than going to Sudan. Sometimes we have to be willing to go overboard for Jesus just to hang on.
But it is an eternal Lord Jesus that we serve, and he has promised us an eternity to work all things out for our good. So do look to Jesus in the time that you have been given. In John 12:8 Jesus said to Judas, “You will not always have me;” or in other words, “You will not always have the opportunity to put your faith in me.” Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found, and call on him while he is near.”
If you keep on looking to Jesus, keeping him in mind in all that you do and all that you say, he will give you the strength to hang on. And you will be all right, now and forever.
Colossians 3:17 — Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Romans 12:1-2 — Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God— this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Matthew 22:37-40 — Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Luke 9:23-26 — Then Jesus said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
–Frances Havergal, 1874