The Fort Morgan Times

Our lord and savior

- Jacob Hanneman Jacob Hanneman is the pastor of Shepherd of the Plains Lutheran Church in Fort Morgan. In-person worship is at 9 a.m. Sundays. Worship online is at www.shepherdof­theplainsl­utheranchu­

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even their own life — such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

— Luke 14:25-27

Today it is commonly thought that claiming to be Christian is all it takes to make you a Christian. We also hear people boldly assert: “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. I believe Jesus died for my sins. That makes me a Christian.”

Is that true? Does our claims to be Christian make us so? What does Jesus think? In the passage Jesus speaks about people who considered themselves his followers, but Jesus asser ts they “cannot be my disciple.” They are not mine. So, just saying it, doesn’t make it true, not in God’s eyes, and it is his opinion that only matters.

It is good that there are many who want to be Christian because Jesus wants you to be as well. But for Christ to be your savior, Christ needs to be your lord. Dear ones, if Jesus is not your lord, he cannot be your savior. We can’t claim Christiani­ty and then think it is ok to do exactly the opposite of what Christ wants, like not going to church etc.

Jesus calls his disciples – his students, followers, adherents – to give up everything they have to rightly call him their rabbi, master and teacher. Why? Because that’s the only way Jesus can rescue them from sin’s slavery and blindness and set them free to taste life to the full (John 10:10).

Weighing the cost of following Jesus is NOT paying for eternal life. It is merely understand­ing what eternal life is – what Jesus bought and gave you as a free gift. Jesus made full payment for your sins to rescue you from captivity to sin (redemption).

Sin is bad. Fellowship with God – walking in righteousn­ess – is good. We gladly follow Jesus so he can teach us and release us from the sin mindset. Jesus’ disciples continue in his teachings, knowing that his truth alone offers real freedom (John 8:31) – freedom from sin’s control, guilt and influence.

What does it mean to “take up your cross and follow Jesus”? The primary role of a cross is to identify what is denied – considered worthless and harmful, as Paul teaches us in Gal. 2:20; 5:24; 6:14.

Jesus’ disciples crucify (reject as worthless and detested) all the thinking and desires of the sinful nature. We reject them as false life, to follow Jesus, and find real life in him. Then we discover something. Everything we gave up to follow Jesus – loved ones, possession­s, etc. – all those things become gifts of God that are loved and used to serve Jesus. We get them back, but no longer as our masters.

We have one master, and lord, who saved us from our sins, and it is he we want to give our lives to, because only he can give us heaven and make us Christians.

Happy that Jesus is my lord and savior, just like you!

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