There’s a curious synchronicity in two of Jesus’ sayings. The first is that “no one can serve two masters.” [Matthew 6:24]. The second saying is this: “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” [Luke 17:33]. In thinking about the first one about serving God and the world at the same time—this is an impossibility because God’s expectations of us are very different from the world’s. If we put God first and foremost in our lives, there is no place for the world’s influence. Even as we are working towards that goal of loving God with all of ourselves [Matthew 22:36ff], God’s influence on us is growing as the world’s is waning. So our choice to serve God precludes the influence of the world.
With the second saying in Luke 17 about clinging to our lives and trying to save them, we are actually dying. For it is only in giving our lives away to God that we find real life and our own true selves. In clinging to our lives as we want them to be we are clinging to the false self, the ego, all the surface stuff in us, the acculturated stuff in us—we are clinging to what is not real in us in the first place. As long as we are captive to our ego, we are definitely in and of the world. When we are truly serving God, we may still be in the world, but definitely not of the world.
There is God and there are we human beings. Otherwise there is the world and us. And it is not mere belief that makes the difference, because we can firmly believe in God in our minds and still be totally of the world. What moves us out of the world is God Himself and our willingness to go wherever God would take us and to do whatever He suggests to us. What makes the real difference is when our minds as well as our hearts and souls and spirits are totally engrossed in God.
That is how we preserve our lives—by turning them totally over to God, willing Him to lead our lives and willing ourselves to serve Him. For a longtime there is a vigilance necessary to catch every hint of rebellion, every “No!” we say to God along the way. We look at and in ourselves for signs and symptoms of the human condition arising. Taking pleasure in someone else’s troubles. Rejecting whatever is new in our lives! Being unwilling to go along with or even to listen to God’s promptings to us. Having no compassion for another person. Trying to control another’s life. Whatever and however we resist God is to be lifted up to Him for healing and transformation. Every single time it happens.
The vigilance pays off over time as we find less and less to complain about. We spend less time in resisting whatever is before us, until finally there is acquiescence and then a welcoming look at whatever or whoever has come into our lives. One Master. Lose your life to gain it. These two principles are the guiding motivators for a life fully lived in Christ.
There is a freedom then to be who we were created to be. To serve one master and not be split trying to please both. To live fully and completely rather than be engaged in a death spiral. To serve God and his kingdom in all that we do. To allow the fullness of who we are to come forward. That live in God is a truth that we are mostly unaware of, until we see the truth of our lives. That God is the universe, that the universe as well as ourselves exists in God. We tend to see God as out there, rather than us existing in God. And that creates a separation between us and God that doesn’t exist except in our minds.
As soon as we acknowledge the truth that we live in God and He in us(the Indwelling Spirit of God) and in all things, we live an entirely new life. We leave behind the thinking of the world, the separation between us and God and us and other people, and embrace what has always been true. From the beginning. [John 1:1-5] How freeing it is to relax back into the arms of God! How freeing it is to know that He will lead us to the path of righteousness! How freeing it is to let Him carry the burdens of our lives! How freeing it is to know that following God means that we will fulfill ourselves, our purpose, our lives!
Questions to ponder over the week: If the world was one end of a continuum and God the other, where on the continuum would I place myself? Closer to God or closer to the world? Am I losing my life in the world or hanging on to it? What is my purpose—to serve God or the world’s ways? What would I have to change to follow God, to be on his end of the continuum, to choose His ways over the world’s ways? Do I want to be totally God’s?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are totally committed to Him at the same time we know we fall short of His perfection and teaching. May we identify with God’s ways and seek to live His ways in our lives. May we be free of the world’s ways!
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