“If” hangs suspended in space, waiting for what is to come. It is a small word that is the catalyst for big outcomes. In the life of a child, it teaches both positive and negative consequences.
“If you do your homework in a timely manner, you will get more play time.”
“If you eat well at dinner, you may have desert.”
“If it rains, we won’t be able to have the picnic.”
In the life of a child of God, the word “if” also introduces significant outcomes.
“If anyone would come after me…” Jesus said. The word “if” in that context creates a threshold for eternal consequences. If you choose to believe in Him, confess your sins to Him, and ask Him into your heart, you receive the gift of forever life. The ramification of not choosing Him results in eternal separation from Him in a place the Bible calls Hell.
If you choose eternal life in Jesus, the outcome isn’t one that waits for the end of your mortal life, it begins the moment you accept Him. That’s a consequence that the human brain can’t fully embrace or understand; because a purely perfect and infinite existence is not something a mortal, genetically sinful mind can grasp. We see that picture darkly through our human perspective and must operate on our imperfect faith.
The eternal life that begins the moment of salvation is guaranteed by the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, and it is this real entity that gives us an anchor to hold onto in the midst of life’s trials. It is the Holy Spirit, which is the presence of Jesus in us, that provides strength for the journey, the promise of good out of difficulty, and joy that cannot be obscured by trials.
That joy is not the feeling of success, life-control or blessings, but the sense that God is Sovereign, and He who breathed the stars into existence and calls them each by name is more than able to orchestrate beauty out of trouble; more than able to overcome sin and death and bring us into resurrected life.
Choose joy. It is, first and foremost, a personal choice, followed by the recognition that it is not something you can manufacture yourself; It is a choice supported by an unshakable belief that once you give your life to Jesus, it is His, not yours. Recognizing that in its fullness brings acceptance of God’s pathways for your life.
God’s grace and forgiveness for sin through Jesus is the root of joy. It is a product of Jesus’ work on the cross. It is the gift that “if” hangs on. If you’ve received that gift, then out of gratitude and obedience to the One who owns your life, there is a consequence which comes as a directive.
“If anyone would come after me,” Jesus said,” he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
The consequence: deny self, pick up your cross, follow. A straightforward directive that holds layers of involvement, courage and commitment; all of which we can supply only through God’s grace and power.
Join me again as we explore what those directives really mean. Embrace the fact that the benefit of choosing Jesus far outweighs the weight of the directives, which come as a result of the choice.
In and through it all, never lose sight of Jesus, the Rock of Salvation: Creator, Life Giver, Lamb of God; He who took away the stone of execution.
Digest: Luke 9:23-27, John 5:24, Romans 8:28, Isaiah 40:25-26