in the world but not of it: Jesus showed us how to do it

This is part 3 of our series on following the example of Jesus as a 21st century woman. Here’s part 1, and part 2.

what it looks like to follow Jesus as a woman in today's world

Do you ever feel like you’re torn between two worlds?

Like you don’t quite belong? I do.

I enjoy my house and I am thankful for it, but at the same time I know that it is constantly a distraction.

I like cute clothes and beautiful things. But I don’t want what I wear to define me. I don’t want to obsess about what I look like, because that is idolatry.

I sometimes think about my body size. But what weight will a number on a scale in 2012 have in eternity?  Zip. Absolutely zero. {unless of course I serve that number all my life, and then I will be ashamed}.

People are starving across the world, and yet I want to take a vacation. From all the work of caring for my load of stuff. Yeah.

I want to go and preach the gospel to the nations. I want to leave everything I have and follow Jesus wherever that may lead, completely and fully abandoned like the disciples did. But I have four precious little ones and a husband who is my authority and my leader. I have been given these people by God Himself and I have to be faithful to serve them. I have to proclaim the Gospel to them too. My heart is here first, but my heart is out there too.

If that all sounds a bit crazy, I’m sorry. It probably is. :)

It’s like this huge war is going on between my spirit and my flesh. And it’s happening constantly.

Sometimes I feel this gut-wrenching tension- how do I live in this culture and time in which I have been called to live? How do I separate the world from the things of God? How can I be in the world but make sure I’m not of the world?

How can I be a woman who is like Jesus, today?

I think studying the life of Jesus really reveals this very thing for me.

Jesus lived here.

He walked on the ground of this earth. He ate and worked and lived just like we do now.

But how did Jesus manage to do it? How did he not look like the rest of the world?

He had His mind set on doing the will of His Father.

Did you realize Jesus spent 30 years of His life preparing for ministry?

He had a house. He had a job. He had a family. All good things. And yet He didn’t get caught up in them. He even willingly left them behind to do what He came to do.

Why?

His mind was set on things above, not on things of the earth.

He had set His mind on doing the will of His Father.

His purpose was solely this:

John 4:34: Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.’

John 6:38: For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Matthew 26:39: And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

John 5:19: So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

Jesus lived for the will of the Father.

And yet the will of the Father didn’t spare His own Son.

Can you imagine? Being so obedient to the will of God that you are willing to give yourself over to a horrible death for the sake of others?

His life was not in what He had or didn’t have- it was in seeking the glory of His Father.

And that’s how we can live here and do this life too.

We can’t have our eyes on this stuff. And we can’t discipline our eyes enough not to look, or our hearts enough not to care about ourselves. We’ll never get there. It will pull us away as long as we live.

What do we have to do?

We have to lose our life in Him.

When we look to Jesus- when we seek His will for our lives and not our own- our souls lose interest in this world.

Houses, cars, jobs, vacations, kitchens, clothes…they all start to fade away. Nothing else matters but doing the will of our Lord and Savior.

Oh, friends. Oh. This stuff is JUNK.

It will burn. It’s already ashes.

When you stand before your Savior, what will He say to you?

Will it be that your treasure, your heart, was set on worldly things?

It doesn’t matter if you have a great car- it’s not about the car. The question is, do you love your car? How willing are you to give it away?

If God asked you to leave it all behind tomorrow, how easy would it be?

What if He asked you to be poor? Right here. In the United States. In your city. To go and live in the very worst part of your city. To sell your car and use the bus and walk everywhere. To live in a nearly condemned, dirty rent house. And have your friends know you have nothing, for the sake of Christ?

Think about it. How attached are you to your things? Is your life in them????

These are the thoughts that will be revealed on that day.

When Jesus told His disciples that He would be killed, Peter told Him that wouldn’t have to be. And here’s what Jesus said:

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life[d] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Do you see it? Jesus had set out to do the will of His Father, and even one of His closest friends told Him He didn’t need to do it. Someone who had intimate knowledge of Jesus Himself tried to keep Him from dying for humanity. Crazy. Satan does not want you to do His will.

And what does Jesus say to them all?

You have to deny your own life.

You have to give up your will.

You cannot serve yourself with your life. You will forfeit your soul.

Can you hear it?

Saying you love Jesus doesn’t mean you love Jesus.

If you love Jesus, you will obey the commands of Jesus. Giving up your heart- your will- your desires to God, means you love Jesus.

If you’re working to gain the world, you will lose your soul.

You have to give your heart fully to the Redeemer.

When your heart and eyes and mind are on Jesus above, your life will no longer be about this useless junk.

Success, degrees, status, the things you own, the volunteering you’ve done, the awesome places you’ve traveled…they’re all worthless.

They are counted as dung. 

What good are they in light of Him?

Our righteousness is as filthy rags.

We can only be made clean by Him.

Only by the grace of God are we made like Him. He wants our lives. More than that, He wants our hearts.

Are we setting our mind on things above?

Do we long to do His will?

Are we ashamed to speak of Him to our own friends?

If you know you aren’t living for Him, there is such good news for you.

You are still alive.

You can still lose your life in Him. You can be fully His- you can stop caring so much about this junk that will keep your soul from Him.

Pray. Pray that He will change your heart.

He will not deny you.

He does not want you to lose your soul.  He has been so patient with you! He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Repent. Tell God everything. Tell Him you’ve lived for yourself and you can’t not live for yourself without Him. Ask for His forgiveness.

He will answer. He will.

Live for your Lord.

Maybe you have a great house. But your hope is not in it. Your hope is only found in Him.

He is good and worthy. Jesus died on the cross, rose again and defeated sin for YOU. It has no power in you when your hope is in Him. All who believe in Him will not be ashamed. It’s a promise.

Whose will are you seeking today?

9 comments

Emily said...

Preach it girl!! I loved it. :)

Jenny C. said...

Mandy, Thank you for this. My heart and mind are in total agreement with this truth. Oh to walk it out in my daily life is my heart's desire. I wish you could shout this from the highest mountaintop to all fellow believers! May the Lord bless you & strengthen you in your ministry for Him in a needy, lost world.

Lydia Nelson said...

Beautiful, This is an awesome series. Just what I needed to hear. Thanks you

Lauren Casper said...

excellent post! I struggled for so long after coming home from one of four trips to Ethiopia with this exact thing. I felt so much guilt as a Christian for my living arrangements, closet, ect... I wept over the fact that we have two cars and they have none and stand crammed like sardines into city buses to go to work. I have a full closet yet they have rags... it broke my heart and changed me. Now I feel at peace with where I live and what I have for the simple reason that I don't live FOR it. We give away a lot of the extra and use what we do have. I don't know why God blessed us with so much and others with so little but I do know that's exactly what it all is - an undeserved blessing. And none of it is coming with me to heaven. Thank you for this very real and open post!

Janelle Roberts said...

Holy cow, girl. This is JUST what I needed to read today. I know that I tend to care about material things too often...I also have a few friends that concern me because their emphasis on material items is approaching dangerous...thanks for the reminder. It is so needed, especially around this time of year!

latoya @ a peaceful crib said...

Thank you Mandy, what a wonderful word! I seek to lose my life in Him, it hurts to much when I focus on the things around me because I know for a fact that they are meaningless. Glory to God for allowing Him to use you in such a wonderful way. I truly enjoy all of your series. God bless!

mary said...

Your a hero, luv your blog. so uplifting and smart too.

Melissa Ringstaff said...

Mandy, this resonated deeply with my heart. I have felt this way for so long. Thank you for sharing!

Meghan Hollister said...

Mandy, this is such amazing truth! We just studied Mark 8:31-38 this past week and it has just been sitting on my heart and I can imagine how it sits on so many of this world today. Thank you for this post.