Listening To Jesus
August 4, 2015 | By Shawn Varghese
At the Gathering this past weekend we talked about the biblical response of a disciple to the glory of Christ. The call was in the words of God the Father, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mark 9:7). We also discussed the means of listening to Jesus – the high standards of Christ becoming “light” and “easy” – by beholding Him. “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). But the Bible calls us to more. If beholding Christ is the positive means by which we grow in our ability to listen to and obey Him, the negative means by which we do this came just a few verses before.
Christ’s Call to Kill Sin
Jesus said in Mark 8, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (v. 34). If we are to truly follow Jesus, along with beholding Him we are to take up our cross as we follow Him. In the Ancient Near East, talks of taking up crosses almost always referred to a death sentence. In this Jesus is calling us to one as well – the death of our sinful nature. Since our sinful natures come with bondages and strongholds, this can be done in no other way than a declaration of war against our sin.
Notions of war do not sit well with us in America. Being on this side of all the wars our nation has been involved in, we have a bad taste in our mouths when we hear of it. This causes many to neglect what it feels like to be in a war and rather embrace the comfort that wealthy nations tend to bring. Sadly, when this transfers over to the spiritual realm, we tend to believe that all is well with our souls when we as individuals and families experience such prosperity. But the Scriptures are clear when it talks of our call to fight.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of an unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). When Jesus calls us to pick up our cross, he does so in order for us to wage war against such powers within us. What does a life like this look like? Paul said that because he had crucified his sinful nature that his life is no longer characterized by his old life but rather the life of the risen Christ. Similarly, the more we pick up our crosses, waging war against the things of our old nature the more we experience the life of Christ within; the more we are able to behold the glory of Christ; the more we are able to listen to Christ. Imagine a life with such a constant intimacy and connection to Christ. Although we’ve all experienced moments of it, what about the extent to which our lives are characterized by Christ living it out!? Such goals ought to begin by killing idols.
The more we share with one another the idols of our culture, we see that it entails busyness (with good things), idleness, and comfort. What would this week look like if you depended more on the Spirit to wage war against such idols? What do you need to do (or not do) in order to obey Christ’s call to pick up your cross in these areas? How can you better respond to the Father’s call to listen to His Son? Finally, how do we do this together as family? Take a moment to picture it, plan for it, and pull it off.
Impact in Mission
Such a life not only produces a vessel holy to be used by the Lord but as a byproduct one that causes you to be a good steward of the time and resources that God has given you. Could you imagine the gospel opportunities if you are asked how you are able to use time well? Or how you got over a particular addiction? Or how comfort is not an idol? May our response be, “by listening to Jesus.”