Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Whose Word Matters?

Adapted from the message given Sunday, September 21, 2008 at Titusville Branch Fellowship.

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” Luke 14:26.

Most would agree that Jesus' words here are telling us that our parents, spouses, siblings and children should not take first place in our hearts and lives. He alone should be first.

I would like to suggest another application of this verse: Sometimes what these people have said to us carries more weight than what Jesus says. Their view of us is more important to us than his view of us. What they think about us rises to a place of supremacy over what he thinks about us. And this usually happens subconsciously.

Walking Wounded
There are wounds in many of our hearts from the past, wounds caused by people most important to us. Real, serious, deep, and untouchable wounds. Intentionally or not, they have been inflicted through words or actions that have berated us. Worst of all, many of us have fallen in line and turned on ourselves, believing a lie that we are worthless.

We protect these hurts by building walls around them: sanctuaries to their existence. We instinctively create these defensive mechanisms to keep people from hurting us again. In the process, we distance Jesus from these untouchable areas. He wants to bring healing and life. But holding onto the pain of the past, we don’t allow him access to these remote places of the heart.

These hurts hinder us and hold us back. They cripple us and keep us from walking in the fullness of who Christ is in us. Instead we walk in insecurity, measuring our worth by what we think others think about us. And we don’t experience life to the full as Jesus wants to give it.

Distant Echoes of the Past
Jesus doesn’t want anyone to displace him in our hearts. But how about their words, their actions, or their views of us? Do they hold sway against Christ’s words, actions, and view? Does his word take second place to what has been spoken about us in the past? Does Christ’s death on the cross speak more to us about our worth than what others have done to us?

Of course, in theory, we would say yes. But what about when we are hard-pressed and caught off-guard? Again and again, we hear in our hearts the distant echoes of those who have betrayed our love and trust. We are boxed in and hindered because of insecurities rooted in past hurts.

A Difficult Cross
Jesus goes on to say that if we don’t carry our cross and follow him we cannot be his disciple. A disciple is one who imitates his master. Jesus was absolutely secure in the Father’s love. And he was unswayed when those closest to him abandoned him. His view of who he was in his Father’s eyes was unswerving. Are we secure in the Father’s love? Do we believe Jesus’ declaration of our worth?

Resting in his view of us can be a difficult cross to carry. Sure, we can deny ourselves in many areas. What about denying ourselves the right to believe we are worthless? We can easily see other people’s worth and yet be blind to our equality with them. When we deny our worth, what are we saying about Christ’s death on the cross for us? Are we putting other people’s words in supremacy over his?

Giving Place to Christ's Word
Can we allow Christ’s words to penetrate into these deep areas of hurt and insecurity? Can we love his words and hate all others’?

Can we grant Jesus access beyond the walls that enshrine the words and wounds of the past? After all, Jesus’ word about us and our worth is what really matters.

His isn’t just the final word, it is the only word.


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