Disciples—followers—of the King in America have a difficult time in this country. Our problem is not usually the cost of being a follower of Jesus: persecution, isolation, etc.. Our problem is that this world offers so many things we like that we get easily distracted. Jesus said it is like seed planted among thorns that later choke out the plant trying to grow. The thorns were “the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth” (Matthew 13:22, NASB). His warning sounds even more familiar when the result of being choked isn’t that the plant dies, but that it isn’t fruitful.
Christians in America today have experienced this so much that they have accepted the state of unfruitfulness to the point that they consider “disciples” to be a deeper level of Christianity—as though we can belong to the Lord and be unfaithful and unfruitful, but if we really want to be spiritual we can be disciples.
Those who are trying to be faithful find themselves caught up in the worries of the world—politics, economics, physical health. Even the blessings our Lord has allowed us to have become a trap when fear of not having them in the future, or our children not having them, causes us to put our energy into fighting problems in the world instead of following Jesus.
My goals have always been Kingdom related. I have served the King as faithfully as I am able since my conversion in 1972. I have never accepted the popular view of the Kingdom as something that we enter when we die. Our Lord made it clear the Kingdom is here and now, and we are either part of it now, or we aren’t part of it at all.
So, my goals in life tend to be focused on the Kingdom here and now. That’s not all bad, but it is short-sighted—and it leaves me vulnerable to those thorns Jesus spoke of. In the past two weeks, I have had this brought into focus in my own life. One of my oldest friends and one of my early mentors both died, and another very old friend was diagnosed with cancer. Corky and Bryce are with the Lord now. They have gained the goal we all strive for, and I believe they have both heard the King say the words I would give anything to hear: “You did good” (modern translation😊). We need to remember that the Kingdom isn’t only about here. In fact, while it begins here and now, that is only a minuscule part considering eternity.
This world is not our home, and whatever we do, we do to please the King. It is our job to not allow the concerns of this world—however important they are—to distract us from our mission. The day will come when what the world sees as the greatest tragedy overtakes us. But when we die, we lose the thorns and are with the King. May we each live in such a way that we hear Him say, “You did good!”.
Know Jesus and Be Faithful!