Larry Sheehy052012Listen to Larry Sheehy's latest column about the challenges Jesus gives us in life.
Life is full of challenge and opportunity, and successful people take advantage of them.
Jesus has given us challenges in life. These take many forms and involve every area of life. We’re going to follow either Christ or the devil. We can’t “straddle the fence of indecision.” Do you remember the challenge given to Israel by Joshua, the successor of Moses?
“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua.24:15)
Jesus’ life had meaning and purpose, unlike the seemingly aimless lives of some and the self-centered existence of others. He came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke.19:10) He wants us to find our purpose in him, and so he calls us to follow him. I’d like to suggest three of Jesus’ challenges for you to think about.
1. JESUS CHALLENGES US TO THINK AS HE THOUGHT! Paul taught us to think as he did, since he thought as Jesus did. Writing to the Corinthian church, he said of himself and the other apostles, “...we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) He said to the brethren at Philippi, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)
Jesus always did what was right because he always thought right. The familiar principle of Proverbs 23:7 states that “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,” and Jesus’ thoughts were always what they should have been. He overcame temptation because he had the word in his mind, as he demonstrated when he said to the devil in Matthew 4 concerning his father’s will, “It is written….” In fact, in everything, his thoughts were on the obedience of his father’s will.
Paul said that the apostles were concerned about taking “…captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Here is the hardest thing of all - controlling our thoughts. If we can do that, we can control our actions.
2. JESUS CHALLENGES US TO GROW AS HE GREW. Luke 2:52 tells us that Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” The apostle Peter, like Jesus, challenges us to grow: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2)
3. JESUS CHALLENGES US TO GIVE AS HE GAVE. Jesus gave everything by giving himself. Paul pointed out to the Ephesian brothers that they must “love [their] wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her….” (Ephesians 5:25)
The Biblical principle is found in the truism that it is in giving that we receive the joy of seeing other receive.
Life is full of challenges - but those Jesus gives are most important. These challenges are not impossible, but can be met with his help.
The best time to begin is now.