The Profit of Following Jesus
At some point I was introduced to a legalistic church which put fear into me and showed me much scripture I overlooked before, and hence showed me the importance God places on obedience to his commands. Their message was too overbearing for me, but they did impart this importance to me, and I spent the next several years pondering over this and trying to clean up my life, so that I could live a holier one according to Godís laws. It was a process of weaning out many of the indulgences I savoured. It was a slow process, not like it should have been, but in that direction nevertheless. But one thing I could not bring myself to do was to let go of all my friends, or jump to the fanatical right extreme, and start preaching to all of them of brim and firestone. So I prayed regularly to God to help me with this, and I guess he answered me in his magic way, because over the years I developed a disgust for my previous lifestyle, of endless godless chatter over a bottomless glass of beer, and I even developed a marked distaste for many who I previously considered my friends. Either they changed, or something changed in me, but many of them started to appear like gossippers partaking in endless chitter chatter about nothing. I started mistrusting many of them and my circle of close friends got smaller and smaller. And with my remaining yet smaller circle of closer friends I was more likely to reveal my thoughts on Christ. I have struggled with this issue the most, because after convincing myself I was a devout atheist for so many years, I felt like a total hypocrite talking about my new beliefs. I felt embarrassed talking about them, but slowly I have brought myself out of the closet and I am struggling with this still.
I hope to continue in this direction, perfecting myself further, and know I should have left the ploughshare and followed Jesus in full earnest without looking back, but this simply did not happen and I could not. But I hope that one day I will be able to, and as I slowly approach this, I am learning what it is like to give up every one of lifeís indulgences and pleasures to be in fuller communion with the Spirit. Like removing lead from one end of the scale to replace it with gold on the other. It is certainly a hard concept to explain to an unbeliever. And as I move forward on my journey, downloading further reading from the internet in search of the ultimate truth, I realise that many or a large majority of Christians need egging. They are fence sitters like I have long been, living in between the two worlds, benefiting as much as they can from the Spirit while enjoying a worldy life on the other. I see that God wants the most from us, and I can imagine that I would be more content spiritually if I managed to throw off all my worldly shackles, but it is difficult to perceive this before getting there.
Concerning these matters, the bible says the following:
And miserable yes I can imagine. Rather than "live today, for tomorrow we die", I am supposed to give up all the pleasures that a human life can offer, subject myself to persecution, perhaps physical torment in the name of the gospel, live the remainder of my life as a fanatic, all for the sweeter taste of the Spirit, and a rich reward afterwards.
I would truly have to be the biggest fool that ever lived if these things did not come true, but the experiences in my life and the unmistakable taste of the Spirit have convinced me that all these things are not a fable. The bible says that you have to love the truth to hold onto it,
and I feel I have been given the conviction to love it that much. And hence I pursue it, knowing what it may lead me to. This is my profit. But I do not want to pursue it for the mere sense of the profit either. This I feel would also be missing the mark. This would be following the path of the legalists and the Pharisees who seek salvation by own works. Who are convinced of the profits of the after life and use their gained reason to perform certain rituals and a sacrifices in an outer sense Ė to achieve the prize by their own means. This I feel is also wrong, and feel that God is after our hearts most of all.
So the profit I am talking about is difficult to explain, and Iím not even there yet, but Iím motivated by the truth I am aware of, and the full sweetness of the Spirit I once tasted. Only a fragrance remains now in comparison, but this fragrance alone is worth its weight in gold much more than all the lead that lifeís indulgences can buy.
There is also fear. The price of falling short. Perhaps more than that I fear what will happen when my finances are restored. It is in times of financial difficulty that I most earnestly seek a more wholesome relationship with God, but when work starts pouring in again, I get consumed by the busyness of it all, and with money flowing through oneís fingers like river rushing through a stream bed, the temptation is great to sink back into lifeís various pleasures, feel secure, and drift once again from an acute awareness of our great creator. This is the endless cycle of our human nature, and what Israel went through from its extremes of subjection to wrath, subsequent repentance, and the following salvation. In this I understand Jesusís wisdom that it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than a mosquito to pick its nose with a boxing glove.
I yearn to find wealth so that I can do a lot of good with it, but I fear how I will respond once I have it weighed down in my hand.
In any case, the pearly gates and the right frame of mind is what Iím after, and I can only speculate about the profit. But of the truth I have been convinced, and I learn that it is a narrow path indeed as I continue on my journey.
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