Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Unconditional....

image used under Public Domain license, photo obtained from pixabay
Mark 10:21 (KJV)  Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers used that verse for his devotional for September 28.  And he highlights an amazing principle in a way we might not ordinarily think of it.

Very often, that verse is used to illustrate putting other things ahead of or in place of God.  Making other things idols.  While the application is true, Chambers brings up another focus that is really the essence of this verse.  And the point Jesus was really making.


We often hear the conversation about God sprinkled with the term agape or unconditional love.  But Oswald Chambers threw a new idea out, based on today's verse.  He used the term "unconditional identification".  When we think of Jesus' normal teaching, it's difficult to take the application we mentioned and make it the main focus of our verse.  But throughout the New Testament we see repetition about becoming Christ-like.  Having that in mind changes the whole thrust of that verse.

The rich young man comes to Jesus and asks about eternal life, several verses prior.  Jesus reminds him that only God can be called good and goes through the main components of the commandments.  The man responds that he's lived those since childhood.  At which point our verse says Jesus loved him - with agape, unconditional love.  That love causes Jesus to tell him that he still lacks one thing.  That one thing is what Chambers calls "unconditional identification".

What we see Jesus saying next is revolutionary.  He tells the young man to sell everything, then give to the poor.  That will gain a heavenly reward.  But Jesus doesn't stop there.  He then says to the young man that the final steps are to "take up the cross, and follow me".  We're five chapters before Jesus goes to the Cross, He hasn't really talked to anyone about what's coming.  But here He tells the man to take up the cross.  And then Jesus adds that the man should follow Him.  This is where we begin to see what Jesus is showing him.

The rich young ruler has lived properly, but he's relied on possessions, position, and self to make things happen.  Contrast that with Jesus who has relied on the Father for everything.  We realize that Jesus is pointing the the man toward unconditional identification.

Jesus says, in Matthew 8:20, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.".  Teaching the disciples to pray, we read in Matthew 6:10-11, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.".  And there's Matthew 5:6, which reads, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.".  Jesus had several things happening:

  1. He relied on the unseen instead of the physical things that could only provide temporary solutions.
  2. Jesus trusted the Father for direction for His life on  earth.  Jesus had an expectation of the Father guiding Him correctly.
  3. Jesus lived on a basis that He would be blessed and satisfied by trusting and focusing on the Father instead of relying on human perceptions.
It was those things He pointed the rich young ruler toward.  Unconditional identification.  Jesus was showing the young man that the fullness of the presence of God couldn't be experienced until he went beyond understanding, comprehension, and perception.  Until he was like Jesus in trusting the unseen, he would lose out on much that God had for him.  Unconditional identification gives us all we ever spiritually need.

Are we living in unconditional identification, today?  Or do we still rely on what we "know"?

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