Half of the nation was going to be upset by the outcome, no matter who was elected. Either way, let me encourage those who have an eternal perspective, that our marching orders have not changed. Because this nation was never going to be revived by elections. Or demonstrations. It can only be revived by the power of the Spirit at work in the church. Presidents can help or hurt the people they lead but they cannot save them. They cannot change their hearts. They cannot give them lasting joy and hope that does not disappoint. They can preside over a nation but only Christ can reside in the hearts of men and women whom he has redeemed. Our hope is found in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
Uzziah served as king in Judah for 52 years. In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah the prophet didn’t go to the bar and drown his sorrows. He didn’t go to the golf course. He didn’t go home and curl up in a fetal position. Isaiah went to the temple. He went to church, if you will, the place where the people of God gathered. And Isaiah was given a vision; he saw the Lord sitting on his throne, high and lifted up. He heard the Lord speak. He understood his calling, that the Lord was sending him to speak to the nation. The king had died. Not God. Isaiah had work to do. So do you and I.
Jesus said to his disciples, and to us, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
What does it mean to deny myself? Here’s what it does not mean. From an unknown source comes an article titled, “How To Be Miserable.” It says, “Think about yourself. Talk about yourself. Use “I” as often as possible. Listen greedily to what people say about you. Expect to be appreciated. Be suspicious. Be jealous and envious. Be sensitive to slights. Never forgive a criticism. Trust nobody but yourself. Insist on consideration and respect. Demand agreement with your own views on everything. Do as little as possible for others.”
No, Jesus taught us a different way. He calls us to deny ourselves so that in losing our life for his sake, we will find it.
“Take up your cross daily.” Let’s not trivialize the meaning here by saying things like, “Well, I have some arthritis in my shoulder that limits my golf swing, but that’s my cross to bear.” No, when Jesus told them to take up their cross, every person in that crowd would have an image flash through his mind. If a man was condemned to die on a Roman cross, the moment he was sentenced to death, if he wasn’t whipped first, he would be given a crossbeam to carry to the place of his own execution. It was a one-way trip. He would not be back. Everyone knew they would never see this individual again, at least not in this lifetime.
The follower of Jesus Christ is called to voluntarily lay down his life every day, so that he is free to think about one thing: how will he live for the sake of Christ and the Gospel that day?
“And follow me.” A disciple followed his master closely enough to the point that when you saw a disciple, you saw the master. They tried to walk like them and talk like them and gesture like them. When the world sees a disciple of Jesus Christ who is running a business, he ought to be able to say, “That’s how Jesus would run a business if he were here running a business.” That’s how Jesus would build a house or sell a product or take care of his customers or raise a child or manage a household.
How should we respond to this call to discipleship? By giving our life to serving Christ and the Gospel where we live and work and study and play. It means we will not be afraid to speak the truth about who Jesus is, that He is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
That’s what we need, followers of Christ. An eternal perspective.