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Friday, December 31, 2010

Reality, Results, and Rewards

31-32 Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. "If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you."
 33 Surprised, they said, "But we're descendants of Abraham. We've never been slaves to anyone. How can you say, 'The truth will free you'?"
 34-35 Jesus said, "I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can't come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.
(John 8:31-35)

The reality test of discipleship:  Living out what Jesus tells us.  All the world is into the fad of reality shows.  At every turn of the day, new ideas for reality shows spring up - everything from being marooned on an island to trudging across country without any to your name, dancing with famous people, or swapping mates in the name of entertainment.  These shows often push the envelope and exhibit the basest of human nature - it is truly "no hold barred" as far as they are concerned.  And people eat it up!  Why?  Perhaps because we are living "posthumously" through those on the screen.  Perhaps it is because we want validation that we are not any worse than others.  Regardless the reason, the shows are prospering.  Now, they are even reaching out to children - in the name of discovering their "talent".  

There is one "reality test" that that would never make it to the top reality show ideas, though - the test of walking daily as a disciple of Christ.  I imagine some would see this as too "tame" for the widescreen.  Still others might see it as too "ordinary" or "mundane".  I feel sorry for those who would make that judgment without ever experiencing the reality of the walk.  In fact, they'd discover that there is nothing "ordinary" about a walk with Christ.  It is challenging at every turn.  There is more dedication required in one simple act of obedience than all the challenges of the reality show realm could combine!  The walk is not for the weak of heart - it requires determination, commitment, and endurance.  The neat thing is that if we lack any of these, Jesus provides what we need!

The result of discipleship:  We will experience the truth.  As with the reality show programs, there is an end result that is desired in our Christian walk.  The disciple of Christ is to be transformed into the image of Christ.  There is to be an exchange of nature - resulting in the revelation of Christ through us.  Truth is freeing - even when we don't know we are bound!  The Pharisees were questioning Jesus about the reality of his ministry when he spoke these words in our passage.  He was called upon to explain who he was, what he was all about and what he was doing on this earth.  In response, he challenges them toward discipleship and reminds them that they need to be free of their bonds of sin.  Now, if you know anything about the Pharisees, you probably know that this did not sit well with them!  

You see, we don't realize the benefits of the "result" until we have a revelation of the "resistance".  Sin is resistance - we are resisting the control of God in our lives, choosing our own way over his.  In turn, we get all bound up in sin.  At every turn there is "resistance" in our lives.  If we experience enough resistance, we often reach out for different "results".  Jesus promises the result that really matters - being set free from all that brings resistance into our lives.

The reward of discipleship:  The truth will make us free.  As with the reality shows of the widescreen, there is a reward to those who choose the path of discipleship.  The truth makes us free!  

If you are struggling with the walk of a disciple today, I challenge you to see that the reality is that you lack nothing to enjoy both the results and rewards of discipleship.  Everything you need is revealed in Jesus - he is the truth that will set you free.