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The One Thing that Changes Everything

By Ronald Gallagher

Church message imageSome time ago, I was asked to offer relational guidance by a woman whose marriage had reached a point where earlier dreams of idyllic bliss had apparently morphed into relational warfare. In response to my query about what might be the core issue plaguing her marriage, in an explosive exposition of accumulated exasperation, she blurted out a single, all encompassing word: "Everything!”

"Everything” is one of those words that we easily toss into lots of different situations even if the application doesn’t really fit the actual definition of the term. We’re aware in most cases that "everything” doesn’t always mean "everything.” The word means one thing when I’m ordering a hamburger and another when I’m working on a project and something happens that wrecks the whole thing. "Everything” tends to pop up when we feel the need for a mechanism to help us emphasize a point, but rarely do we think about the full extent that the word could imply.

Regardless, situations do arise sometimes that affect us in a way that leaves nothing in our lives untouched and beyond which a return to former circumstances is impossible. For many of those men and women who met Jesus of Nazareth, His simple invitation, "Follow me,” was one of those events that would eventually encompass "everything.” After all, He didn’t come with an offer to be an optional religious resource to grant some encouragement when they were having a bad day. He came to do a comprehensive exchange--one life for another--His for theirs. The invitation He extended carried some qualifying conditions that were sobering. For instance, He said:

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:37-39 (NKJV)

Following Jesus meant abandoning everything that might stand in the way of the relationship He offered. Saying "yes” to Him demanded a willingness to consciously subject every value and every priority to His ultimate authority. What He offered in return was everlasting life, a means of having every sin and failure wiped clean and every broken, flawed part of their lives regenerated according to God’s perfect design.

Jesus gave hope, and meaning, and purpose to those who followed Him. They experienced things they never would have imagined, and felt a sense of fulfillment that they had never known. They trusted that He was the Messiah they had heard about all their lives, and they looked forward to seeing Him establish His Kingdom. But then He died. Like a common criminal He was humiliated and tortured on a cross until He finally succumbed. When He did, "everything” they believed and hoped for died with Him. They took Him down from those bloodstained beams and stuck His body in a tomb . . . "Everything” they had dreamed of and waited for was buried with Him.

During those awful days after He died, there was nothing that could have consoled them; nothing could have replaced what they lost. They had committed everything to Him, and there was nothing left--no Teacher, no guide, no healer, no comforter. For those who had committed everything, death had claimed it all. But then, three days later, something happened that literally changed everything. When He walked out of that tomb on Sunday morning, He displayed His power to fulfill "everything” He had promised.

All that He promised hinged upon His claim to be the Son of God. The forgiveness of sins and an eternal existence in Heaven with Him was not made possible by His miracles or His compassionate treatment of the poor and broken, or His unparallelled teaching. His death could only be vicarious for us all if He was, indeed, the sinless Son of God, and only then if He could overcome the grave. Paul made it clear that Jesus’ resurrection is the one thing upon which "everything” depends.

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. … If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 1 Corinthians 15:13-14; 19 (NKJV)

Eventually, all of us will breathe our last breath. At that point we will be stripped of all our possessions, all our influence, all our supportive friends and family, all of our talents, gifts, and abilities. At that point, if we have not shared in His resurrection, we will literally relinquish everything. If, on the other hand, we said "yes” to Him, then everything He promised will be irrevocably ours . . . forever.

In addition to being an active writer, speaker, teacher, and blogger, Ron Gallagher serves in a variety of roles as a ministry consultant for local churches. His Biblical insights are coupled with down-to-earth humor, satire, and relevant stories aimed at promoting "Right Side Up Thinking ~ in an Upside Down World.” Ron strives to apply God’s truth in a way that stimulates the mind, encourages the heart, and challenges the cultural norm.  Check out his blog, "Gallagher’s Pen” at www.gallagherspen.com

NEW BOOK . . .Ron’s new book, Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth, is now available on Amazon and through Lighthouse Bible Studies. Learn more at http://bit.ly/2IDsNpB
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