You are Only Complete at Jesus’ Feet
Salvation by grace alone through faith alone is easy to grasp for many. It often comes with a clear line between the old life without Christ and the new one in Him. You tend to have dramatic life changes that happen at this time that make it stand out. You can see and feel them and know they were all about God. The harder challenge comes in trying to wrap your brain around what comes next. It now about living in that same way – by grace alone through faith alone. This has side tracked many Christians over the centuries. Entire denominations have been pulled down by it descending into rules, empty ritual, and dry regulations. The excitement that Jesus wants for them as they serve Him has been stolen. Yet, it is not a difficult concept in itself.
The Lord keeps bringing Colossians to my attention on this issue as I teach on Christian freedom. He is using that wonderful book to answer the incredibly important question:
How should I live and serve God in light of God’s free gift of salvation?
Paul answered in an unexpected but life changing way in Colossians 2. Rather than seek to pay God back or work to be held worthy, we should:
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
You were saved by grace through faith and not of ourselves. You were built up and rooted in Jesus by grace through faith because of what Jesus did and not of yourself. It follows that you should then live out your walk with Jesus in this very same way…in Him and rejoicing in thanksgiving. Gifts are cause for celebration. This makes sense theoretically. It is challenging in application. Doing it your way according to what seems reasonable feels like an easier path. It can be very confusing as it is what you are used to. The wrong way that leads to emptiness can simply “feel” too right and prudent to be ignored.
The temptation is so subtle and powerful because it does not look sinful…just logical. Too many Christians are trusting in their own minds rather than the will of Jesus. 90% of those surveyed after their encounter with Jesus in our example fell for it. Their lives with Jesus suffered enormously as a result.
Nine Missed Opportunities with Jesus
My family’s Bible study this morning highlighted exactly what Paul meant in Colossians. We went though the account of Jesus and the Ten Lepers. You likely know the passage. Jesus is passing through a village when ten lepers call from afar off. They are in a desperate and hopeless position. They are outcasts and there is no solution to their problem. They are a picture of all of us before Christ. They put faith in Jesus to help and cry out in desperation. He answers and tells them to go to Jerusalem and show themselves to the priests. They immediately left to do so. They were healed on the way there. It is a wonderful account of an awesome miracle.
The Tipping Point
Your life in Jesus can change in an instant. Your decision will change your direction, if it is for Jesus. What happens immediately after the healing presents a clear example of this truth. It is an important decision point for the lepers. It also provides you with clear application for your Christian life. God heals so many people. Jesus saves millions. Yet, the number of truly invested and on fire servants working with joy and thanksgiving is much fewer. How many Christians do you know living totally dedicated to Christ and eager to serve every day? Again, the numbers are limited. Would one out of ten be too high? More importantly – where are you?
Honestly – would you say you were consumed by the world or by the things of God? An Open Letter of Hope and Encouragement to Christians
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.
Think about all that had to be going on with this guy. He had been an outcast and literally untouchable. He likely had not seen his family or friends in years. He would have to get his job back and find food and a place to live. He may even plan to head out and tell everyone about Jesus. The desire to just go and first hug his mom would have been humanly understandable. All of these thoughts need to be dealt with at some point. Yet, they all correctly come after for him. He first chose to praise and rejoice in Jesus, the One who healed him…before anything else. Jesus gave him back life! How could he go anywhere else? The man was richly blessed for this simple clarity. He also went against the crowd. Nine out of the ten men who you would expect to be the most dedicated disciples walked away from Jesus without a word. Many of you us do the same every day.
Why is that?
Look at what do the ten lepers do in response to their healing. Jesus worked a wonderful miracle. He changed their future completely taking them from certain death to life. What do they do next? They leave and go back to wherever they came from.
Only one of the men puts Jesus first, before anything else. This is the decision that sets him apart. It is the way to change your life, if you are willing. Do you want to follow the crowd or Jesus?
17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
Did you know the word for “well” there is different than the one for “healed” earlier? It means made whole or completed. The nine who did not come back were healed. The one leper’s focus on Jesus as the source of his healing and glorifying Jesus made him whole! He is completed when he is on his face at Jesus’ feet, glorifying God, and filled with thanksgiving. Isn’t it wonderful!
Do you see the picture God is painting for you?
The man was far away from Jesus, covered with fatal disease, and without hope. He is now so very close to Jesus, made whole, and can’t contain his praises and gratitude as a result. This happens at Jesus’ feet – but only a few make it there every day. It is so easy to make the other choice – so responsible, so reasonable, so prudent, so powerless!
What do you think happened to the nine other healed lepers?
They are probably grateful. They are certainly happy. They are cleansed by Jesus..but something else comes before Jesus. The family, the life, the job, the place to live…it doesn’t really matter what it was. These were not unreasonable or sinful things. They are not for you. They just distract them from ever getting to Jesus’ feet first and glorifying Him.
Did you notice this makes no sense to the King of Kings. Jesus asks, “…where are the nine?” Such an important question!
The answer is they chose to follow their plan first. The put their priorities before worship of Jesus…possibly thinking they can get back to Jesus later. Have you been here?
“Where are the nine?”
The world desperately needs you. Your family needs you. Your own spiritual life need you. There are already billions of people following the world’s current. No one needs more of that.
You are Only Cheating Yourself
Colossians 2 lays out what is happening as well with them and with you. It seems like you are handling the important things first. It feels responsible and like you are protecting what is yours. The truth is you are being cheated.
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
The nine choose what seems more pressing but end up victims of a terrible robbery as a result. They never make it to Jesus’ feet. They are not shown as anything but calling from afar off in the passage. They don’t overflow with praises of God and thanksgiving. They are physically healed but not made whole. That completeness happens continually at Jesus’ feet.
Are you feeling incomplete in your service of Jesus? Are you missing the bubbling spring of praises and gratitude you once felt? Have you never experienced these?
Are you willing to get radical and make a change to get there?
It could be you are like the nine lepers. You know you are healed. You know it was Jesus. You are grateful and love Jesus. But the daily pressures of life and the pull of your flesh lure you to handle the other things before Jesus. You need to get the house clean, project done, or YouTube video watched AND THEN you will get back to Jesus. You need to make enough money to live comfortably AND THEN you will be bold in your faith. You first need to…what? It doesn’t matter what it is, really. Jesus healed you. He saved you from certain death and eternal damnation. He comes first, above everything else.
Be different! Embrace Christ’s call to rebel against the demand to conform to other people!
Get to His feet, experience the praising and flowing gratitude AND THEN He will tell you what to do with all the rest. Your plan may be totally wrong for His Kingdom.
God has Great Things for You to Do. Yes, You!
Jesus cares about each of the lepers. He knows their hearts and all the things that are going through their minds. He would have sent them to their families, take care of their kids, give them jobs, and find them shelter. This is included in His direction “Don’t worry”. He knows your heart and mind as well. He will take just as good of care of you. That is His job as Good Shepherd. Your job is simple and easy: Go to Jesus first before everything else like the one leper and let Him bless us. He is where the source of all the great stuff of your faith!
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
You know these words directly from Jesus. Are you living them?
The odds say probably not, but it does not have to be this way. There is plenty of room at Jesus’ feet. He has more than enough of blessings for all of us.
You can start right now!