“One of the most remarkable truths about Christ’s journey to the cross is the understanding that he made a purposeful informed choice with his eyes wide open. Jesus knowingly stepped out, away from the table of admiring friends in Bethany, and turned his face toward Jerusalem…” (Reaching Toward Easter, p 17)
Recently I’ve started to notice that the theme of “Intentional Living” has been cropping up a lot in my writing. The idea is closely related, of course, to that of “Live Like You Mean it,” and the important commitment I’ve been encouraging people to make when it comes to “Living Forward” as proactive disciples of Jesus.
Too many people live in the shadow of a kind of “victim mentality,” where they see themselves as passive participants in a story that has been written by somebody else, floating along like so much flotsam and jetsam, as if the big decisions about life – values, priorities, choices about the kind of life we pursue, how we spend our weekends, social mores – have already been made on their behalf.
Did Jesus chose to walk into the lion’s den that was Jerusalem, and willingly give his life, so that we could shrug our shoulders and go along with the crowd? I don’t think so.
HARD QUESTION: Not too long ago, speaking at a conference in Florida, I posed the following query: “Take a look at your life; the priorities that drive you and the decisions you make. Think about your commitment to your community of faith, how often you attend worship, and the importance you assign to Bible study; consider what kind of a financial pledge you make to the mission and ministry of your church; rate your prayer-life on a scale of one to ten; think about how deliberately you live for Jesus in your day-to-day life; honestly appraise the way that you apportion your time and your resources…
“Are you getting some kind of a clear picture? Okay, now imagine Jesus considering you – Joe Christian – and wondering, ‘I was born in a stable as a helpless infant, I gave everything, I offered the gift of abundant life, and then I suffered and died on the cross… so that [Joe Christian] could live like this?’
“Put another way: Is the quality of faith/life that you choose to lead what Jesus had in mind for you when he was hanging on the cross?”
“Is the quality of faith/life that you choose to lead what Jesus had in mind for you when he was hanging on the cross?”
CHOICE: When Jesus walked into Jerusalem it wasn’t because the kids’ soccer coach had inadvertently failed to schedule a tournament that weekend, and it wasn’t because “all the other rabbis” were going to be there, and it wasn’t because it was going to look good on his resume, and it wasn’t because of any peer pressure from the people he felt he “needed” to impress.
No, Jesus walked into Jerusalem because he was 100% committed to God. And God’s way – God’s plan – was not going to play out other than via Christ’s intentional, volitional, purposeful decision to “Live Forward” in faith, rather than float aimlessly in the mainstream of some prepackaged story the cultural milieu expected him to live out.
WRAP: So I’m wrapping today’s post with a few more photos; images that illustrate this idea of “Intentional Living,” and “Living Like We Mean it,” and “We Can Do Better than the World’s Way.”
Living faith is all about the choices we make, countless times every day. Mostly, these choices are small, but – added together – they are huge, and they serve to prepare the way, and they set the tone for the monumental decisions ahead.
“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem.” – Luke 9:51
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.