Mark 3: 7-10
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to reach him.
How does this benefit me? What value am I getting out of this? This is the first question I ask anyone who is trying to sell me something or talk me into a new deal as a defense strategy, because the assumption is that the seller is trying to manipulate me into a deal that benefits only the seller.
Unfortunately, this is often the same selfish skepticism with which I approach my faith and relationship to Christ. What can Christ do for me? Why should I follow him?
I’m no different than the masses that followed after Jesus in Mark 3:7-10. They were interested in him for several reasons and most had not the faintest clue what his true mission was. Some were desperate to be healed of illness and demons and Jesus worked those miracles. And the people were stunned and amazed because no one had been able to do what he was doing. Others thought of themselves as “spies,” determined to gather “evidence” to help the religious elite conspire against Jesus. Still others were just enjoying everyone’s reactions and went along with the crowd because everyone else was.
Which group would I have been in? Which group am I in now? What is my motivation for following Christ today? Am I after his blessings? His healings? His goodness? Am I in love with the Giver of gifts, or just the gifts?
Guilty as charged.
I must remind myself of the purpose for which God sent Jesus in the flesh to be among us, and Jesus’ primary mission. He came to be the ultimate sacrifice for my sins. My sins were, are and always will be the most important issue for me to reconcile before God. Nothing and no one else has the power to do that for me other than Jesus. That reason alone is enough for me to follow him, to fall to my knees in worship, and to devote my life to serving him. For me at this time, it means persisting in writing about what I believe and why and seeking out ways to be encouraging to other believers. It also means being the best possible wife and mother that I can be and I have no doubt that God will send more assignments and challenges my way as I continue to grow.
These Wednesday posts are my way of being intentional about using Lent as a time not for self-punishment or sacrifice, but to develop a deeper understanding of myself as a sinner. If I’m not aware of my sin, I’m not compelled to confess and repent. Without genuine confession and repentance, I might walk blithely into Easter services grumbling about the lack of parking and the crowded pews rather than feel joy and gratitude over what Jesus did on the cross.
So what’s in it for me? Since my sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus, I am allowed to spend all of eternity worshiping him in heaven when I pass from this life. Now that’s a deal made in heaven that benefits any believer.
Prayer: Oh Heavenly Father, forgive me for sometimes valuing your gifts more than just simply You. Forgive me for my discontent with the blessings you have already given me. Teach me satisfaction in abiding in You alone. Help me find peace and joy as I focus on You alone. Amen.