There’s an old story about a pastor who, after preaching a long time, gave an altar call.
“Come to the altar and give your life to Christ!” he said. Nobody came.
The pastor thought and said, “Come to the altar, as a way of saying that you love and honor God.” Still nobody came.
The frustrated pastor appealed to his congregation, “Come to the altar as a way of saying that you want to live a better life.” Nobody came.
Finally, the pastor said, “Look, if you love your mother, come down to the altar, OK?” *
I (Dawn) am sure all pastors who have preached their hearts out have thought it would be easier to joke around and make the altar call less intimidating to get people down the aisle. It’s tempting to make the Gospel more palatable for people. But God’s call to discipleship is never easy. It is costly to follow Christ, but discipleship is precious ~ worth the cost. Our Lord promises to be present with us and empower us to meet the challenges of following in His steps.
As we think about this new year, we probably have a lot of good intentions. We want to be better disciples ~ to learn of Jesus’ ways and and serve our Lord with all of our hearts. But, though the word “disciple” is used 262 times in the New Testament (mathetes),** and Jesus called us to follow Him in submission and obedience, how many of us choose to be more committed disciples?
What has struck me in these days is that in every choice you and I will make this year ~ whether large or seemingly insignificant ~ we will make a statement about our values (what is important to us ~ our priorities).
We don’t make our choices in a vacuum. Our choices rise out of who we are, what we believe, and what or who we cherish. We may have good intentions, but they won’t last long if they don’t match up with our core self, beliefs, and heart.
So before we make too many “resolutions” this year, let’s resolve to search our souls before God and let Him show us ourselves in the light of His Word. Do we really love what He loves? Do we see people through His eyes? Do our goals align with His Word, will, and ways? Let’s ask God for His vision for our lives, and then cast away everything that doesn’t fit in with His plan.
So, what do you value? What are your priorities? Do your choices make sense before God? Would other choices better reflect who you are, what you believe, and what or who you love?