Climb Free: The Path Into the Kingdom I

A Climb Free Post. Free climbing, which is to climb unaided by artificial supports and human contrivances, whether on lead or following, is the purest and most satisfying expression of the climbing spirit. Free climbing illustrates for us the passion and purity we should have for living each day unaided as much as possible by dependence on artificial supports and our human contrivances.  We are creatures of an almighty God, created expressly to live in His presence and power.  To do so is the highest expression of our living.  It is our “free climbing,” if you will.  The posts labeled “Climb Free” will focus on the thinking and practices that allow us to live in the presence and power of our God, with as few encumbrances as possible. Image via Pixabay.

In both speaking to and living the Gospel of the Kingdom, Jesus clarified the path into our new covenant relationship with our God. We have been called to the narrow way, to new life in Christ and His life lived in us in place of our own.  His purposes can be summed up as the restoration of the original relationship and spiritual conditions within His children (see previous two posts on this topic here and here). This path requires from several important, ongoing commitments and actions on our part.

Repentance – The first step in turning to God to be a disciple is to repent of the former manner of living in its entirety.  Repentance, the decision and action of turning away from something and to something else, is important in the message Jesus delivered. In this context this is a total change of life purpose, goals, focus, direction, and empowerment. 

Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Mark 1:14-15 “Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Luke 13:1-5 “Now on that very occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus responded and said to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans just because they have suffered this fate? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you think that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse offenders than all the other people who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Repentance from what, and to what?  Jesus clarified His call to repentance when He called all those who would follow Him to deny oneself, die to oneself, and to love Christ Jesus above all else in life. To forsake the self-life, denying all self-managed living is the core of the repentance. The self-life is the antithesis of love and submission to God.   To repent of all self-living and love Jesus Christ above self and every other love are direct imperatives from Jesus to His would-be disciples.   See also Romans 12:1-2.

Matthew 10:34-39 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.” See also Matt. 16:24-25

Mark 8:34-37 “And He summoned the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it benefit a person to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

Luke 9:23-24 “And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, this is the one who will save it. For what good does it do a person if he gains the whole world, but loses or forfeits himself?” See also Luke 14:25-33.

John 12:20-26 “But Jesus answered them by saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. The one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”

Jesus is clarifying His call to repentance. “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Denying one’s self, also referred to as losing one’s life or hating one’s life, means turning from self-management, self-seeking, self-direction, self-protection.  Repentance from sins will only have integrity if it is based upon the greater repentance from self-living, which is the self-denial and crucified life Jesus is describing and into which He is calling all followers.

To love Christ above all else – living the greatest commandment.  All followers of Christ are called to loving our God with all of one’s being and energies, above one’s self and one’s kith and kin.  

Matthew 22:34-40 “But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.” See also Mark 12:28-34.

Luke 10:25-28 “And behold, a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.

This “great commandment love” includes forsaking all self-love as well as elevating our love for our God above all other loves.  These lesser loves are now to be dwarfed by and controlled by our higher love for our God.  It is this love for which we were created and redeemed.  We will never be satisfied in love without this as our love-foundation.

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