The past two Sundays we have been in a mini-series built around the question, “what does God require of us?” On Sunday we explored the encounter that is recorded in Matthew 19 between Jesus and a rich man who point blank asks Jesus, “what good thing can I do to get eternal life?”
During my message I raised the question, “what is eternal life?” I appreciate the perspective of New Testament scholar NT Wright and resonate with what he says in this interview, “Have We Gotten Heaven All Wrong?”
“First-century Jews who believed Jesus was Messiah also believed he inaugurated the Kingdom of God and were convinced the world would be transformed in their own lifetimes. This inauguration, however, was far from complete and required the active participation of God’s people practicing social justice, nonviolence and forgiveness to become fulfilled. Once the Kingdom is complete, he said, the bodily resurrection will follow with a fully restored creation here on earth. What we are doing at the moment is building for the Kingdom. Indeed, doing God’s Kingdom work has come to be known in Judaism as “tikkun olam,” or “repairing the world.” This Hebrew phrase is a “close cousin” to the ancient beliefs embraced by Jesus and his followers.”
I don’t think the man in Matthew 19 was asking Jesus how he could get to heaven after he died. Rather, he was asking Jesus how he could become engaged in the work of establishing the kingdom in his own lifetime.
After telling Jesus that he had kept all the commandments, he raised a second question: “what do I still lack?” And Jesus called him to sell all his possessions and give to the poor and then follow him. The Scriptures tell us that “when the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19: 22).
In our worship we pressed into the theme of surrender, closing our gathering with this prayer, followed by a reprise of the song White Flag. Here is the prayer:
Loving Father, I surrender to you today with all my heart and soul. Please come into my heart in a deeper way. I say, “Yes” to you today. I open all the secret places of my heart to you and say, “Come in.” Jesus, you are the Lord of my whole life. I believe in you and receive you as my Lord and Savior. I hold nothing back.
Holy Spirit, bring me to a deeper conversion to the person of Jesus Christ. I surrender all to you: my time, my treasures, my talents, my health, my family, my resources, my work, relationships, time management, successes and failures. I release it and let it go.
I surrender my understanding of how things ‘ought’ to be, my choices and my will. I surrender to you the promises I have kept and the promises I have failed to keep. I surrender my weaknesses and strengths to you. I surrender my emotions, my fears, my insecurities, my sexuality. Today, I especially surrender…
Lord, I surrender my whole life to you, the past, the present, and the future. In sickness and in health, in life and in death, I belong to you. Amen.
What might the Lord be inviting you to surrender today?
Here is our complete worship flow:
- Rise (Kari Jobe)
- Love Came Down (Ben Cantelon)
- Our God Is Mercy (Brenton Brown)
- White Flag (Chris Tomlin)
- Announcements and Offering
- Message (Matthew 19)
- Reprise: White Flag
You can learn what other communities of faith experienced in worship this past weekend at The Worship Community.