Summary: To choose to follow Jesus and then go on to become mature disciples of Christ never is to never forget what it takes to go all out for Christ and to be all that Christ would have His followers to be: Daily Christ-centered Living!
OUR CHRIST-CENTERED ADVENTURE MEANS SO MUCH MORE THAN WE THOUGHT
One of my concerns among many this past week was how to approach this series on discovering contentment the very week in which there was so much for me to worry about - which prompted me to do a little research on the difference between worry vs concern.
The contrast which struck me most was by that famous person “Anonymous” who said: “A worry is seeing just the problem, while a concern is seeking a solution to the problem”. Thus:
While my mind was set on staying “as contented as a cow chewing its cud”, my thoughts and prayers focused on complicated concerns - solutions to which were expertly implemented by professionals who had learned how to identify medical concerns, then apply their knowledge to the situation at hand.
At this point, my brain shifted into high gear: Suppose no cause is found and no treatment can be administered; or, suppose there is a diagnosis for which no cure exists, and only symptoms can be treated until the disease runs its course.
What then? It is this very necessity of having to adapt to whate’er befalls us - learning to live with it - that a concern becomes a burden. What do we do with burdens? “Take your burdens to the Lord in prayer, and leave them there.”
Paul’s admonition to the Philippians (4:6-7) speaks to our need to pray about everything: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Shape your worries into prayers by letting God know your concerns. And before you know it, a sense of God’s peace, with everything working together for good, will settle you down. How wonderful it is when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life!” (Peterson, The Message)
To simply navigate a complicated life, a Christian must learn to be content whatever the circumstances. Only by making Christ the center of our lives can we experience contentment that is real. It’s part of becoming mature Christians!
Jesus taught what it means to be mature Christians in His mountainside discourse. In the segment recorded in Matthew 6, Jesus laid down principles to be lived by in the kingdom of God: He said that mature disciples do what they do for God’s glory not for public praise . . . give top priority to spiritual matters not material vanities . . . trust God, not greed, to meet personal needs – Matthew 6:25-34 . . .
“Therefore” indicates that what is about to be taught is to be considered in light of what has already been taught: “The kingdom of God is at hand” . . . “My kingdom is not of this world” . . . “In the world but not of the world” . . . Mountainside: “What it means to be Disciples in my kingdom” (those willing to accept the rule of God as manifested in Christ) . . .
Matthew 5 ended: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect!” Matthew 7 ended: “When Jesus had finished, the crowds were amazed because he taught as one with divine authority.” Matthew 6: Jesus referenced religious practices (giving, praying, fasting) and a practical necessity (making a living) to contrast those who accept the rule and reign of God vs those who do not.
“If you want to be mature disciples: practice your profession of faith not for the praise of man but for the Lord, provide needs for yourself - and for others - in ways that please God.”
“Therefore, since you do all that you do for God’s glory . . . you give Christ top priority in your life . . . you serve God not mammon (material wealth) --- Do not worry about your life! “Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you!” That said, let me say:
Life is not always fair. Life is not always easy. Life is not a bed of roses. So, as we go about doing all we must do to survive and achieve a degree of satisfaction, Jesus comes along and challenges us to live simply and not worry ourselves to death. Now:
At our stage in life, rather than the usual focus of this passage on planning for the future, setting life goals, establishing priorities, achieving maturity - which we for the most part have already attained - suppose we view our Lord’s challenge from the perspective of what we have already discovered.
You are to be commended for having sought the LORD . . . found Jesus as Savior . . . crowned Him Lord of your life . . . lived a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that you do. Congratulations! You will be commended by the Lord himself: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”