Links Daily Devotional

The Ultimate Apprenticeship: Opposite World

“The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12, NIV)

One of the hardest things to convince ourselves of in golf is that almost everything works opposite of what we think. In order to hit the ball up in the air, you have to hit down on it. Often if you swing easier, you hit the ball farther. And the hardest one for me—if you want the ball to curve to the left, you have to swing to the right (and vice versa to make it go right). So I guess it is fitting to the sport that the winner is the one with the lowest score!

As I follow him and lean not on my own understanding, I am learning just how wonderful of an experience this opposite world in Christ really is.Yes, golf really is a game of opposites, and that is probably why we are able to find endless numbers of analogies to our faith in Jesus. This opposite world appears to be the theme of the teachings of Jesus; however, many of us don’t want to submit ourselves to all of his teachings. Just like it is very hard to convince me to swing the club more to the left when there is a large body of water down the left side of the fairway to make my ball work to the right away from the hazard, it can also be difficult to submit our lives to the way of an invisible God that often does not make sense to our world or cultural view. Yet Jesus said, “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39).

Jesus was very consistent in the teaching of his young apprentices (the disciples, we call them). After announcing that the kingdom of God was at hand, Jesus spent the majority of his three years of ministry teaching them and others that followed all about it so that they could share the good news of it to the rest of the world. Much of what he taught about this kingdom was countercultural and counterintuitive. Look:

– “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

– “I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

– “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)

– “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

– “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16)

How do those verses settle with you?

Would you rather just quote John 3:16 and leave the rest of his teachings to the “super religious”?

One of the best lines I ever heard about following Jesus is, “It will cost you everything, but there is absolutely no sacrifice.” Jesus offers an abundant life full of joy, a peace that passes all understanding, living water that will never leave us thirsty, and victory in all circumstances. However, many of us have settled for less because we want all that this world has to offer despite knowing we cannot take it with us. We look for and settle for a religious belief system that satisfies our present desires and offers a way to get to heaven when we die.

God doesn’t want anything from us; rather, he wants for us. Just like any good father, he wants to give us every good gift that he can possibly give. His plan to do that is for us to follow Jesus, who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Everything he taught may at first glance not make much sense, but as I follow him and lean not on my own understanding, I am learning just how wonderful of an experience this opposite world in Christ really is. I challenge you to join me in the ultimate apprenticeship.

Josh Nelson
May 25, 2016
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