Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When Faith Leads to Trouble

"CaravaggioSalomeLondon". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah.  John answered their questions by saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork.  Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”  John used many such warnings as he announced the Good News to the people.  John also publicly criticized Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, for marrying Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for many other wrongs he had done.  So Herod put John in prison, adding this sin to his many others.    Luke 3:15-19 (NLT)
John knew at least three things:
He knew he was NOT the Messiah.
He knew Jesus WAS the Messiah.
He knew a servant must KEEP both of those facts in plain view.
John, as a servant of Jesus, was willing to hold to that truth no matter what it cost him.
And it did cost him…everything.  
John the Baptist was a preacher of righteousness who talked of fire and threshing floors, where the wheat is taken violently out of the chaff.  He didn’t fear telling the truth, even to a wicked king like Herod.  This prophet was fierce and unwavering in his devotion to the Kingdom of God.  In the end they cut off his head to say thanks for your ministry!
How inconvenient! 
Not exactly a gold retirement watch and Hallmark Channel finish to John’s life.
I am quite often amazed, particularly compared to the Baptist’s fate, at how comfortable my life has been.  Compared to John the Baptist I have hardly had troubles.  That’s not to say there hasn’t been pain and heartache over personal losses and family difficulties – everyone experiences that. 
But, in the wee hours of the morning, I’m faced with the question of why John suffered as he did, and not Russell.  (Now, stop peeking over my shoulder….I could have used your name here too, you know; we all have to answer this question…has Russell, have you been as committed to Jesus as John the Baptist…and if not, why not?).
Why is it that the greater the devotion to the Kingdom and King Jesus, the less you’re likely to experience comfort?  Could it have something to do with picking up a cross
By the way…that was Jesus’ plan; when you give yourself fully to the service of King Jesus others will get ticked, just like Herod fumed over John’s stand for truth.  Contrary to some contemporary preaching of the “prosperity gospel” Jesus did not come to provide the comfortable life of the American way, with two cars, 401K, lake houses and time share travel vacations.  And Jesus knew that people would bristle over the cost of picking up a cross…
“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth!  I came not to bring peace, but a sword.  ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  Matthew 10:34-35 (NLT)
Here’s a dose of reality at 5am:  If you want to follow Jesus, closely, devotedly, obediently, get ready for surrender!  Get ready to surrender all thought of comfort and ease.  Living a life of following Jesus Christ is joyful and peaceful in the heart, but it’s liable to get you in trouble everywhere else!  Including family, friends and kings.
For You, Today

A question:  If it was going to cost you everything you possess, would it be your choice to stand and loudly proclaim Jesus as King?

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