I’ve never been good at keeping “to do” lists. I can make really good ones. But the problem is that my to do list often comes into conflict with the to do lists that others have for me. I want to study today, but someone needs a ride into town. I need to work in the yard, but a last minute phone call screams out “Emergency! Come quick!” You know how it goes. To do lists can be helpful but the trick is knowing when to keep on task and when to accommodate someone elses list. Staying true to your priorities is a challenge especially when it comes to being a follower of Christ. What’s on the follower’s “to do” list?
The disciple’s to do list.
In Matthew 10: 7-8 Jesus is instructing his disciples on what he wants them to do on their first mission. In essence he gives them a “to do list”. How would you like to have these things on your daily agenda?
1. Proclaim that God’s kingdom is at hand.
2. Heal the sick.
3. Raise the dead.
4. Cast out demons.
5. Give away what God has given you.
These disciples were fairly new at this whole Jesus thing. In fact they knew nothing of the cross, the Holy Spirit, or the church. They had no real understanding of the kingdom they were called to proclaim. They knew nothing compared to what the average Christian in my culture knows today. Yet Jesus sent them out to do supernatural acts of power, that most of us, who have been wearing His name on our hearts for years, have never even imagined. Be honest. If you hear of someone casting out demons or healing sick people you most likely think the person is either a charlatan or mentally unstable or both. Why is that? Why is it that some 2000 years later we seasoned, trained, and theologically astute followers of Christ have such a radically different to do list than the one they had in the beginning? I would say that for many of us our Christian to do list looks more like this:
1. Proclaim how cool my church is. Or brag about why I don’t need to go to church.
2. Become obsessed with my own health.
3. Live like I’m never gonna die.
4. Watch movies about demons, witches and vampires.
5. Acquire more stuff and protect it at all costs.
This to do list has no resemblance to the call of Christ, yet many believers have an agenda that isn’t too far from it. It seems that many of Jesus followers have made the terrible mistake, as I have more times than I care to admit, of working on the wrong to do list. We’ve lost sight of the kingdom of God and are pursuing the American dream. We think we can baptize the world’s values in our religious traditions and call ourselves followers of Christ. Perhaps we have forgotten the one thing that truly makes me a follower of Christ, and that is, following Christ. Jesus said, “why do you call me Lord and do not do what I say?” In other words, “Why do you call me master, while you ignore my to do list.
Your opinions about Jesus do not make you his disciple. Your obedience does.
Claiming to be a Christ follower without following his commands will leave you empty and weary. None of us follow perfectly, but we are all called to follow. Otherwise we find ourselves worn out from confessing one thing while pursuing another. This double life can be exhausting, as well as deadly. Maybe you know what I mean. Perhaps you find yourself worn out from working on the wrong set of priorities and, although you believe in Jesus, you have not yet engaged in what he calls his followers to do. The fact is that Jesus calls us to live supernaturally, not naturally. We don’t live by our instincts by by His Spirit. At the top of Jesus to do list is “seek and save that which is lost.” If I am his follower that must be at the top of my list as well.
Two agendas for your life.
In John 10:10 our Lord tells about two agendas that directly affect us all regardless of what we believe. He said Satan’s agenda is “to steal , kill, and destroy.” Our Lord’s agenda is radically different. “I have come that you may have life, and life to the full.” Which agenda best describes the direction of your life right now? Satan has a to do list for you. If you follow it you will experience emptiness, bondage and death. Jesus to do list, on the other hand, offers you freedom and life. So take some time and ask yourself which best defines your life right now. Whose to do list are you working on? Is it time to make a change?