While in Belgium last summer, my family and I traveled to Veurne to see the famed, yearly procession of the Penitents. As Veurne is nowhere near the town where we were staying, we ended up traveling almost to the end of the coastal tram line and then taking a bus to arrive there. But it was well worth our efforts. The procession graphically displayed that all-important message: Jesus is our Saviour!
As soon as the procession was over however, we joined the rest of the myriads of visitors in running towards the bus stop. We had only ten minutes until the bus would arrive, and the next one, if there was a next one, would not be for another hour.
When we arrived at the stop, all hope died. There were so many people already waiting for “our” bus!
But we were determined, just like everyone else, to be on that bus. I, of course, had a more legitimate reason than most: My mother, who was in a nursing home, expected to see us again before the home doors closed at eighteen o’clock (Sorry! This is how Europeans refer to six P.M!) Even this bus would barely get us there on time! Our number one priority had to be securing four spots on that bus!
As we waited for the infamous vehicle, I noticed that everyone else around the bus stop looked pretty grim as well. No one dared to talk. They were all conscious that there was no way that everyone would fit in that bus, and they, too, had their priorities that perhaps were truthfully more legitimate than ours!
Thankfully, we all made it onto the bus. True enough, we were all packed like sardines with our backpacks between our feet to allow for more passengers, and in the end, there wasn’t even any standing room. But it didn’t matter. We were all relieved. We had made it!
It’s then that I began to wonder: We had made it to what? In all my rushing and pushing and shoving, had I clearly portrayed the One to whom I pledge allegiance? Had my fellow bus passengers notice me as a follower of Christ? Would Jesus have done what I had done?
How different waiting for that bus might have been if my priority had been on the anxious people around me, rather than on my own desires. I had missed a golden opportunity to talk with these people. A joke here and there might have broken the tension, might have helped everyone to relax. I might even have had the opportunity to point out that Jesus, who died on a cross for us, as portrayed in the procession, has given us real reason to rejoice!
But I didn’t. My own priorities were too important to me.
I realized then that this is too often my problem. More often than not, my own desires are placed way higher than those of my Lord and Savior!
It’s time we change this! Are we Christians, or are we just churchy couch-potatoes? As long as we cling on our own agenda, we will never really get to know the One who paid our ultimate price for freedom. In all reality, instead of relying solely on Jesus, we let our circumstances dictate our paths.
The following illustration given by Jesus Himself is quite an eye opener. If you are not prepared for a complete shock, skip the rest of this message, for it will revolutionize your thinking. We cannot read this and continue to live as busy bees zooming around, completely unconscious of our surroundings.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” (Matt 7:21a NIV)
Here we notice that calling Jesus “Lord” does not always mean we truly have surrendered our lives to Him.
“…but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 7:21b NIV)
It’s here that we need to ask ourselves: Are we always trying to do “the will of my Father who is in heaven”? Is our prayer truly: “Lord, be the One in charge of my life. Not me, but you Lord”?
“This bible text must be referring to people who are not believers, right?”
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’” (Matt 7:22 NIV)
Does this seem like Jesus is referring to unbelievers? Being heavily involved in church activities does not mean we have surrendered to Christ. Many of us specialize in accepting Jesus as our Saviour, but not as our Master.
“Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt 7:23 NIV)
These people knew of God. These people had the Scriptures, they went to the synagogue and were even involved in ministry, but they never truly knew God! They had never surrendered completely to Him, and as a consequence they only had the faintest of ideas of the reality of Jesus!
Is there hope for any of them?
Absolutely. Jesus urges those of us who are missing the boat to: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt 7:24 NIV)
It is still not too late!
Some amongst us may wonder: “What does that have to do with the fruit mentioned in former devotionals?”
The answer is: “Everything”. Watch for next week’s devotional entitled: “On the Crossroad to oblivion.”
Waiting for the bus? Hmmm, I wonder if I could bring a smile or two to those around me.
(To access the entire “Only in Jesus” devotional series, please click here.)