Leeches. Nasty little organisms. They hang on for dear life. It takes great effort and tricks of the trade to be set free from them. We have some leeches in the lake by our Bible camp. For some who love the water and water activities that is no deterrent to them from enjoying the lake. However, for others, leeches are big enough in their minds that they choose to stay out of the lake. Leeches make a wonderful metaphor for things that cling to us and keep a hold of us that prevent us from being completely free.
This past Sunday we began a five week sermon series titled ‘Firm Beneath Our Feet’. It is about knowing our identity, being certain about what we believe, which creates a firm foundation for our daily lives in the ever-changing world around us. Non-negotiable truth #1 is that JESUS IS LORD. ‘Lord’ isn’t a word we use very often in our modern English language. Basically it denotes a person exercising absolute ownership rights. Therefore, to say that Jesus is Lord is to proclaim that he has absolute authority over our lives which should result in complete surrender.
Easier said than done, though, right? To submit all of who we are to his control. That means my money, my leisure, my attitude, my desires, my ambitions, my possessions. That is a tough sell for those of us who grew up in the Western World where we have been incubated in a culture that idolizes individuality and autonomy. We don’t mind submitting parts of our lives to God, but all?? That cramps our style. That impinges on my freedom of choice and the enjoyment of the lifestyle I lead. If we cringe at any of the previous thoughts there’s a good chance it is revealing leeches in our lives. What are we holding onto that we’d prefer is off-limits to God’s dominion?
If you were with us a year ago we began a preaching journey through the New Testament book of Hebrews. A repeated phrase in Hebrews is the exhortation to hold firmly to our “confession”, or to the faith we profess (i.e.Hebrews 4:14). To confess something is to declare something or admit something. And so in converting people made a confession of faith that included “Jesus is Lord” (cf. Romans 10:9) The people that the letter of Hebrews was written to were facing persecution for their faith. They were becoming weary in holding onto their confession that Jesus was the Messiah. They were tempted to blend back into Judaism in order to feel temporary reprieve from the persecution. Hebrews was written to those wearied people encouraging them to hold on! Because this pressure is just temporary. Remember, eternity is a blink away. Don’t deny Christ for the momentary relief. Don’t miss out on the Promises to come, as their ancestors in the Old Testament repeatedly did!
Denying Christ is not an unforgivable sin. Just look at Peter before the crucifixion! Thank God! However, denying Christ puts us on a slippery slope that could easily lead to a hardened heart and an eternal separation. It is important to hold firmly to our confession. But that doesn’t mean merely the verbal acknowledgment. Does it translate into the way we operate and live daily life? We are fortunate in the West not to be put in life or death confession situations, however, reports out of the Middle East and other parts of the world tell us that Christians are constantly put in that very same situation. ISIS, and persecutors over the millennia, give Christians the chance to save their lives by denying Christ and converting. If they instead hold on to their confession they are killed. That is 100% all-in confession that Jesus is Lord of my life! May knowledge of our brothers and sisters martyred around the world for holding on to their confession be an inspiration for us to flick off the leeches that would keep us back from full surrender to the One who loves us with an incredible love and desires better things for our life than we imagine for ourselves.