Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Choosing the Right Side (Mark 8:31-38), Part 2 – Choose the Will of God

(Pictures taken off the Internet)

As mentioned earlier, from our study of Mark 8:31-38, we can see three principle that will guide us in discerning how we can choose the right side and make the right choices in life. The first principle is to choose the will of God above all. In Mk 8:29, Peter had just proclaimed that Jesus is the Messiah, the long expected savior of God’s faithful. After that proclamation, Jesus explains to his close friends that there is more to salvation than feeding the hungry or leading a political revolution. He tells them that being the Messiah also means he must suffer and die and then rise again from the dead. However, Peter does not want to hear about suffering and dying. He finds that unacceptable. He takes Jesus aside and “rebukes” him strongly, “C’mon Jesus. You’re God. You don’t need to suffer. We came to you to escape suffering. We came to you to escape the oppression of the religious leaders. This is crazy talk. We’ve seen what you can do; we know no one can beat you.

What is Jesus’ response? “Get behind me, Satan! You are thinking in human and not divine terms”. Peter’s words were actually a temptation to Jesus. Jesus clearly knew about the suffering of the poor and the oppressed people of Palestine. He had divine power and could have overthrown, if he wanted to, the Roman Empire and taken over the government. He could have fixed all of the social injustices and cured all of the diseases of the world. To use modern terminology, he could have created a society where the standard of living was beyond anyone’s expectations.

But that was not his objective. Jesus’ objective was to do the will of the Father. That is why he rebuked Peter with these words, “You do not have in mind the things of God”. To Jesus, the will of the Father was most important above all. Think about it for a moment. The Bible tells us that Jesus was God himself. Yet he obediently followed his Heavenly Father’s will. And if Jesus, the perfect and sinless man chose to put obedience to God above all, then can you and I live a God-pleasing life by doing anything less?

Let us study a little astronomy. Look at the first picture above of the earth. The total area of the Earth, including the oceans, is approximately 510 million sq km. The diameter of the earth is 12K+ Km. Is that big? It sure does, especially to me from a little red dot called Singapore. Let us consider the sun in picture two. Big as the Earth is, you could actually string 340 Earths around its centre. So imagine your neck as the sun. You have to string 340 pearls of Earth together to make it go round your neck. In fact, 1.3 million planet Earths can fit inside the Sun. Do you think that is big? Let’s look at the third picture. Consider Sirius, one of our neighbours, only 8 light-years from Earth. 1 light-year is measured as the distance it would take for an object to reach its destination in 1 yea, travelling at the speed of light (186,000 miles/second). It is almost twice the size of the sun. But even that is nothing compared with Arcturus in picture 4 with a diameter 25 times that of the sun. Even bigger than Arcturus is Aldebaran which is 36 times the diameter of the sun. And even that cannot compare with the giant stars like Beteigeuze and Antares. To them, the sun is even smaller, just one pixel in the picture as you can see. Are you impressed? And who designed all this? Genesis 1:1 says God is the maker of Heaven and Earth. We read that in the Apostle’s Creed too. Not only did he create the world, he also sustains it by his power. Think of the wisdom that would be needed to keep all that in order. He is the same God, who so loved the world that he gave his one and only son Jesus Christ so that whoever among us believes in him would be saved. Imagine God, the all-powerful, all-knowing maker of Heaven and Earth, becoming your kind and loving Heavenly Father. Isn’t that an awesome thought? Surely we should be choosing to follow his Will above all.

The question is whose will do we really follow in life? Is it God’s will or the world’s? If we want to know whose will, all we have to do is examine what we do with our time and money. I heard Tim Keller preach this once. Tim is a Presbyterian pastor in New York City and I love to hear him expound God’s Word. He said that if anything that replaces God as the object of your heart’s affection, that object becomes your god (small g). Are there any other gods that we serve - golf, cars, money, careers, online gaming, anime watching, pornography, high fashion, even our own talents, etc? We should think about what is really the central object of our heart’s affection. Who really sits on the throne in our hearts - God’s will or our own? Would you stop coming to church near exam time? Then your exam results and not God sits on the throne of your hearts. Do we work (even pastors) ourselves to exhaustion to the point where the Bible and prayer becomes just an option in our daily life? Then our careers are now our idol and replaced God’s will for our life. Do you rush back from school and go online immediately to chat, play games online or download videos for hours, ignoring Jesus who wants to chat with you? Then your internet activities have become your idol. When we place anyone or anything above our Almighty God, we are choosing to disregard God’s will and follow that false idol’s will.

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