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Till death do us part

Wednesday, November 3, 1999

Luke 14: 27, 29, 33
Jesus says, "Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. ...This fellow began to build and was not able to finish. ... In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."

Algebra and plane geometry are based on very simple principles, obvious in and of themselves, which are then applied in various numerical situations that can become very complex. Knowing and accepting the basic principles is the only way through the jungle of numbers and variables and figures which present themselves for solution.

Jesus' principles here are like those logical principles at the bottom of algebra and geometry:

1. What I begin with belongs to God, not to me. I am born with nothing on my back or in my bank account.

2. Nothing I have accumulated over the years will prevent my death. And when I die, I will take nothing with me. I will be left once again only with what belongs to God, not to me.

3. To follow Jesus, to be his disciple, means to "take up my cross." That is, to follow Jesus is to follow him into death, and even more perhaps, to put to death my "self" even before my body dies.

4. Since I lose all I have acquired at death, it must be true that in every case where I rely on myself, my family, my possessions, my accomplishments, my "bank account," I will not have enough to finish the work of following Jesus. I will run out of money before the tower is done.

This is not negotiable. It is not optional. It is logically, necessarily true. Spock would have no trouble with this. We humans, however, are caught by our emotions, entangled with people and things that seem so important, more important than God, because of how we feel about them. Jesus wants to help us, and he calls on us to "hate" our mom and dad, to reject the physical security that sucks us in and ends with the terror of loss and mistake.

"The horror, the horror," cries Kurtz as he sees into his own heart of darkness. "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." Hardly the stuff of following Jesus: letting all the rest go sooner rather than later and hugging the discipline of being saved and redeemed close to my skin, warmed only by the presence of my God.

Jesus, you are all I have. I belong to you, and there is nothing in my life that belongs to me. Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit, and restore to me the joy of my salvation. Thank you, Jesus.

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