I always thought I'd enjoy learning how to ballroom dance. I like to watch the gracefulness of two people being so totally in sync with each other that they can just glide across the floor. If you have ever watched my try to dance, you will know I have absolutely no understanding of the concept of being led in the dance. I struggle with not getting ahead of the one who is leading! I don't know why that is, but maybe it is because I have never really had a dance partner that knew how to ballroom dance themselves! I have never been led by one who knows how to lead. Having the right lead in our lives goes way beyond the ballroom.
Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16:24-26)
Jesus has spent endless days answering the accusations of the Pharisees - men who just plain did not accept him as the Messiah. They were so consumed by all their religious rules - Jesus was consumed with the fact that access to God is not with keeping rules, but in knowing Christ. They pushed away from him - he pulled those who were open to his teaching near - because he desired to lead them as the one who knows perfectly well how one is to be led! Jesus has just finished asking his disciples who they REALLY think he is. They answer with the "pat" answers, the easy answers - well, people say you might be John the Baptizer, Elijah or Jeremiah. He asks them to declare who THEY think he is - one lone disciple spoke up - Peter. He declares with a certainty - you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. He recognized the one he wanted to lead in his life!
To that revelation Jesus adds this teaching we have before us today. Anytime there is a revelation of the person of Christ, hearts are opened - leading is occurring. Anyone receiving that revelation comes into a place of discipleship. Jesus tells them - anyone who intends to come with me must let me lead. This is the stumbling point for many a person - letting Christ lead. We want the controls - we find it difficult to not pursue salvation on our own terms. Jesus reminds us that it is not a self-help pursuit - discipleship is sitting at the feet of the Teacher, learning of him, allowing him to direct our path, and enjoying the privileges of his leading. People of the day in which Jesus was teaching would have understood this concept better than we do today. We are not accustomed to having to wait for the Rabbi to circulate into our townships in order to get the teaching of the Word - to become educated, learned, and wise. Today, we can simply turn on our computers, seek out innumerable teachings online and find ourselves immersed in all that promises the answers to life's woes.
The message of leadership over one's life is found in a person, not in the pursuit of a religion. It is Christ that desires to lead - to be the one helping us gracefully make it across this ballroom called life. It is his GIFT of sacrificial love that we embrace with open arms, allowing ourselves to be led. Jesus asks us to answer one important question today - who do YOU say that I am? If you call him Savior, rejoice! If you have yet to call him Savior, reach out to him today. He is waiting to be invited into your life. Remember this: Jesus not only wants to lead our lives - he came to this earth specifically to make a way for our lives to be led. When we submit to him, we are allowing the fullness of the gift of his sacrificial love to be at work in our lives exactly as he intended. Open up to his leading - control is best when it is submitted to one who knows how to perfectly lead. Just sayin!