Friday, July 26, 2013

Control


"Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." -Matthew 16:25


This verse is not merely about martyrdom. 

Certainly, there is an element of that in Jesus' words; perhaps even the bulk of his rhetoric thrusts in that direction. However, there is another meaning inherent in this homily. All throughout the ebb and flow of Matthew's gospel, we see Jesus preaching about the coming of a kingdom - 
The Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven. He instructs us to pray for it's coming on earth (6:10), tells us what it is like (13:24, 31, 33, 45, 47; 18:23, etc.), and with John The Baptist instructs his hearers to repent for it "has come near" (3:2; 4:17).

The overarching theme of the book is that the Kingdom of Heaven - the Kingdom of God - has come and is breaking forth in the world of men. Listeners are instructed to repent, prepare and proclaim the coming of this Kingdom. 

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Imagine, if you will, the proclamation being given: a kingdom is coming. There's no stopping it, no fighting it. To do so would be in vain. This kingdom is taking over, and you can submit to it, or be crushed by it. Thankfully, it is ruled over by a goodly king. He wants nothing but fruitfulness and blessing for his people. However, he will tolerate no rebellion, no insurrection. The land, and it's people are rightfully his, and he will have his due. 

What would you do? How would you prepare? 

Would there be fear? 

Undoubtedly.

Would there be excitement?

For most. 

The land has been in turmoil for so long. The coming of the king is good news for many. 

There are some, however, who like the idea of life without a king: the bullies, the brigands. 

For those, the coming kingdom is news most foul. 

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Here's the thing about a kingdom - it is ruled over by a king, a lord, a sovereign. 
There is only one person who exerts full control over those realms - the king. 
His subjects have freedom, as he allows, as he sees fit. 
To fight his will is folly.


And yet we do this daily.

We too, as Christians, are under the rule of a King. 
And there is not room in His Kingdom for yours. 
Little insurrectionists we are, fighting to wrench control of our lives from the grip of our goodly king. 

And in part, that is what Matthew 16:25 is about. 

It's about relinquishing control of our lives, submitting to the rule of the King. 

Often, I find myself fighting. Pining for a different job, a different physique, a different bank balance, a different set of talents. Truly, there's probably nothing wrong with desiring a different career, working at becoming more healthy, working to earn more money, or practicing at a new skill. It's the fighting that's the foul play. Instead of being thankful for the life I have, and provision given, I grumble, complain, envy, strive and fight for more, better and different. 

But here's the funny thing about control -                                            

                                                     We've never truly got it to begin with. 


We only control what He allows us to. 

So, the control we fight and strive for, that urge to take the wheel and steer, 

is and always was an illusion.

Maybe, in the end, the verse is fundamentally about death, both death at the hands of persecutors, and a death to self, a laying down of one's life, one's rights, & the illusion of control. 

Perhaps it's time. 
Time to submit to the rule of the King.
Time to ignore the illusion. 
It's time to let go. 



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