“This, then, is how you should pray: “’Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”
Matthew 6: 9-13
The thought occurred to me just yesterday as I contemplated issues regarding earthly relationships, that in God’s mercy to forgive a sinner like me, and in my need to be forgiven and to forgive others, I realized I must seek independence from God. “Independence from God you say, how outrageous a thought”, I can hear readers of these words reply; but yes, independence that I must receive from God, so that I must become fully dependent upon Him as my LORD and Saviour, alone.
There was an angry young man who, throughout his entire adult life as a lost sinner, struggled to win the approval of his parents. In that flesh driven state, the young man became more and more frustrated as he found himself constantly in need of his parents for material provision, much more than any man should be, and in his need he was constantly making compromises in order to keep his relationship with his unjust parents in good order. The angry man most deeply wanted his parents to love him, and to stand for truth, but the angry man, while he loved truth, stood on a bed of quicksand as he himself made way to every sinful behaviour a person could know.
One day that man had an encounter with the Living God of the universe, the LORD Jesus Christ, and everything changed! After 38 years of a filth driven existence, the angry man found his sins washed clean and his heart new; like a little boy with true hope in his eyes he began to see how many people he had hurt in his past life, as God revealed to him His heart. As the angry man was changed into a new man, he repented from the awful things he had done to sin against his LORD. The new man realized it was his own filthiness that nailed Jesus to the cross, and in that revelation the new man was compelled to allow his life to become that of His LORD’s.
As the years began to pass in the new man’s life, the LORD began many new works in him. But the new man was ignorant to the wisdom of the LORD, and many times he mistakenly believed that if he just tried hard enough he could persuade other lost people in his life to come to faith in Jesus too. So many times the new man had to fall on his face and seek the LORD’s forgiveness as he mistakenly attempted to be a lord to others, instead of relying on the LORD to do His work. So many times the new man would speak too often, and listen to the LORD too little, but the LORD is so merciful He continued His work in the new man.
The new man had old relationships that hovered over his head where he sought approval from his parents who had many times rejected him over the years. And since being saved by the LORD there were times in which the new man’s parents were actually reluctant to tell others of their knowing him; at times they were ashamed of their son and his zeal for the LORD. The new man felt deeply wounded by this rejection, as more than any other time in his life he was obedient and loving with them. But still the new man tried to win their approval, and in so doing, found he was making compromises and allowing himself to remain dependent upon them in ways he simply should not have allowed. In short, the new man was dragging the old man behind him as he refused to suffer the pain of accepting that which he could not change.
The new man was being deceived by sentiment as he really wanted to feel secure in his relationship with his parents, but in that sentimental state he was forsaking his trust in God. The LORD, Jesus Christ, saves souls, and the LORD, Jesus Christ, changes hearts and lives; it is not people who accomplish this task. So even though the new man was aware of that truth in most areas of his faith, he had allowed himself to remain dependent on people, and in his hope of changing them, he had inadvertently given reign of his life to his parents. The new man had to allow a suffering to occur where he would risk complete rejection from his parents if he would fully trust in God to deliver him from his sin. The new man had to fully trust in God to change his parents; the new man had preached the gospel to them, and he had made the truth known, so if he was going to follow Christ with all of his heart, the LORD revealed to him that he had to allow the possibility that his relationship with his parents could change forever.
When Mary and Jesus’ brothers came to pull Him out of the house where He was conducting His ministry, as they seemed to reject the truth, what did Jesus do? Jesus turned His back on them and focused on the will of God. He said whoever does the will of His Father, is His brothers, sisters, and mother. It seems Jesus teaches us that He is to be the centre of our faith, and that we need to make Him our LORD and step aside when others place stumbling blocks in our path, but continue to follow Him. What did Jesus say when the man wanted to go back and bury his father who had just died? Let the dead bury the dead, now come follow Me.
These are radical premises, but the basis for true faith. To step out on the water as the LORD calls us to walk with Him, will take much in the way of trust. And to do so we will risk every relationship on earth that fails to see Him as LORD. Whether it’s our love of a parent, our love of a child, our love of ourselves, our love of money, our love of our profession, our love of entertainment; whatever it is that threatens our allegiance to the KING, we must risk losing those things as we follow Him. Relationships can be the area where the enemy seeks to confuse the truth the most, because he will tempt us into sentiment when we actually need to suffer. Satan will tell us that love has no strife or struggle. Satan will try to convince us that if we love one another we will have no conflict whatsoever. Satan is a liar.
If our loved ones have not the love of Jesus Christ transforming them, at sometime we may face the pain of parting with those loved ones without knowing if Christ will save them too. We won’t hate them, but we will love God much more than them, and so we will follow the Master as He leads us unto righteousness. We will quietly accept what we cannot change and trust in God to supply our needs. We will not make compromises in order to fulfill our carnal desire to feel comfortable, instead we will suffer the sting of the sharp edge of faith that sometimes divides.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10: 34-39
These radical words can be painful when realized in human existence, and the new man is now learning that truth every day. To be lost in Jesus is to be lost to the world that denies Him as LORD. And if that leads to division with those that we love, we must not lose heart, but persevere in faith as our Saviour so commands, and follow Him... for His glory.