Investing in God the Right Way
There is a wrong way to fully invest in God – and a right way.
Our ongoing studies in the Gospel of John brought us to the moment where Peter declares his readiness to lay down his life for Jesus (John 13:37). It seems at first reading an admirable thing, an outstanding example of what it means to be fully invested in Jesus.
But something is amiss. We sense that in Jesus’ response to Peter. “Will you?” “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times” (John 13:38).
Jesus sees in Peter what Peter cannot see in himself. Peter’s motivation is grounded in what he can do for Jesus rather than in grateful response to what Jesus has done for him.
This is the fundamental message of the “footwashing gospel” of John 13:1-11. In humility, disciples must let Jesus wash them, cleanse them of their sin. If they don’t, they can have no part in Jesus.
Fully investing in Jesus does not mean that we operate out of our own strength, our own sense of the heroic, our own striving.
Yet there is something attractive about Peter that we don’t want to miss. His yearning to do great things for the Lord leaps off the page. Peter has his flaws, but he is a needed inspiration at a time when the church must respond with vigor to the cultural attack on/indifference to Christ and his kingdom.
While reading The Heidelberg Catechism in the Confessional Standards of ECO – A Covenant Order of Evangelical Christians, I came upon what I see as the right way to fully invest in God. Here is the opening question and the eloquent answer in this catechism.
What is your only comfort, in life and in death?
That I belong – body and soul, in life and in death – not to myself
but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood
has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me
from the dominion of the devil; that he protects me so well that
without the will of my Father in heaven
not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit
his purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit,
he also assured me of eternal life,
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on
to live for him.
The key sentence, emerging from such beauty of language, is the last one as it honors the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who enables wholehearted response to the things of God.
As the theme of “fully invested” unfolds over the coming year at Hope Church, this will be my prayer (borrowing language from William Carey (1761 – 1834), the “father of modern missions”):
O Lord our God, in the strength of the Holy Spirit at work in us, we will love you and serve you – with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, with all our mind (Luke 10:27). In the strength of the Holy Spirit at work in us, inspire us to expect great things from you as we attempt great things for you. Amen.
by David Lenz