Off The Couch & On The Throne
By: Kristen L. McNulty
Reprint rights available on request. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever noticed that where Jesus used to be taught about and was believed to be the "be all, end all" in our lives, now in many instances He has been tamed down to somewhat of an add on? A guy who solves our problems, draws us into a church community, and gives us a lot of things, eternity in heaven being the big one.
While it's true that Jesus is God and is fully able to solve our problems, that church community is a good thing and that He does give the gift of eternal life, we are missing out on the big picture.
The truth is the Gospels paint a big difference between being a believer of Christ and being a follower of Him. Where believing is easy, following Christ, or being a disciple of Him is painted in a very different light.
Being a disciple isn't a soft existence according to the words of Christ Himself. The kind of life He was selling wasn't go to church, sing a few songs, and write a check. It was laying down everything, not just once in order to accept Him into your heart, but every single moment of every single day that you're given here on earth.
Just look at what Jesus said about what it means to follow:
"And you cannot be my disciple if you do not carry your own cross and follow me."
Luke 14 gives us a filter in which we need to view our lives. It isn't enough to ask ourselves "do I believe"? Every single day of our lives we should be asking ourselves "have I picked up my cross?" If we are not doing so, we could very easily be walking around like someone who requires glasses but doesn't realize it. While they think they are seeing the world clearly, there's actually a whole lot they are missing out on.
You could walk through life everyday and call Jesus your friend, the guy who helps you out when life is hard and part of the trinity, but limiting Him to that is a very dangerous thing to do. Because Jesus is not just supposed to be our traveling buddy, He is supposed to be our Lord and if we aren't willing to take up our crosses and give Him everything, then I hate to be the one to break the news, but then is He really your Lord and King?
I realize that this isn't a very popular idea. Even as I glance at the theme of the songs I have on my iPod (and believe me I have a lot), I see many songs about the Jesus who died to bring me eternal life or the Jesus that promised to never leave me or forsake me or the Jesus who loves me, but I see very few that talk about the Jesus who as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords wants me to pick up my cross and follow Him, putting my desires to death and living for His sake, not mine. And I get why. A song telling people that their comfortable existence is not okay would probably not make the charts. But even though we might not hear this message on the radio, it doesn't exempt us from living the kind of life He requires.
Isn't it about time that we as Christians took Jesus off the couch and instead put Him on the throne? Enough with the complacency by which we define our lives. Enough with the selfish and destructive life decisions that we make in haste, all the while using spiritual terms like "I felt led" to justify them. Enough with the sin that we cover up in our lives and excuse by comparing ourselves to the next guy. Enough with the idea that Christianity is supposed to be a walk in the park, that following Jesus is easy and that believing somehow replaces our need for changing.
I don't know about you, but I don't want my life to be defined with my belief, I want it to be defined by my discipleship. I don't want to look back in thirty years and see nothing but a long line of compromises. I want to live with that same fire and conviction I had when I first decided to follow Christ. And as A.W. Tozer points out in his book The Root of Righteousness, nothing less than denying ourselves and picking up our cross is true Christianity:
"The cross of Roman times knew no compromise. It never made concessions. It won all its arguments by killing its opponent and silencing him for good. It spared not Christ, but slew Him the same as the rest... With perfect knowledge of this, Christ said, 'If any man come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.' So, the cross not only brought Christ's life to an end, it also ends the first life, the old life of every one of His true followers."
After the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross on our behalf, does He deserve anything less than our lives? And the beauty of His grace and mercy is that when we do lay down our lives for Him, that is when we find what true life is.
And the kind of life that comes with following Jesus, while not easy, is not run of the mill either. Where it brings its challenge and sacrifice, by following Christ we live more abundantly and more completely than we could ever hope to live on our own. As we read in John 10:10: "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life."
So that leads us all with a choice to make- are we going to do what it takes to take Jesus off of the couch next to us and instead get up, take up our cross and place Him on the throne in our lives? The answer to that question will not only change our today and our tomorrow, but also our eternity.
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