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Alone or Alone with Jesus?

February 3, 2013

I prefer few quality friendships than a large network of connections. The concept of facebook or email networking is not lost on me – I use an account and read updates from people, although infrequently. I value the medium of easy communication enabled by technology, but I’m wary of how it will affect the quality of my network and communication. I still enjoy once-in-six-month calls with my childhood buddies and that is much more refreshing than superficial electronic communication. There is a sense of connection through hearing the other person’s voice, and even better, face to face communication. This generation of social networking is actually making us more and more anti-social – we prefer electronic broadcasting, using our cute little devices that are always connected, versus infrequent quality meetings with friends. In fact, if we meet face to face, we might find ourselves discussing the electronic life and talking about what we said and saw on the social networks!

I am also worried about how much the connected world is distracting me from spending my time on what matters. My alone time is often occupied with consuming some form of “information” and “entertainment” and not a quiet time of pondering, reading, and spending it on what matters. I feel like I deserve this alone-time just feeding me – especially after I’ve had long days or week of work. I must relax.

Isn’t that a command from God – to rest? (Oh, how convenient!)

Sadly, this is true about most of us. We’re staying connected (or at least feel like we’re connected) to people longer through devices and always consuming (or waiting to consume) bits of digital stuff coming to us via our devices.

When I’m alone and not spending time with Christ, I’m likely to connect to the Internet and here’s what will happen (in no particular order):

  • Watch movies and shows online
  • Check handful of sites that have become favorites over the years (social, political, religious, news etc.)
  • Will review my financial portfolio, retirement planning, general finance stuff
  • Read articles on wikipedia
  • Read blogs and articles from authors I enjoy and respect
  • Research options on how I can become and remain healthy
  • Catch-up on what’s happening in people’s lives on Facebook

What will your list look like?

When we are alone, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have a choice. We can devour on feeding self or spend time with Christ. There’s a risk though.

If I choose to spend time with Jesus Christ when I’m alone, here’s what’s likely to happen:

  • Jesus will ask if my mind is fully focused on spending time with him
  • Jesus will check whether my burdens are the ones I’m supposed to carry
  • Jesus will probe my conscience and see if there’s any sin I’ve not repented of
  • Jesus will ask how my prayer life is and who can I pray for right now
  • Jesus will finally ask – are you carrying the cross I had for you?

See how uncomfortable this becomes? That’s why my flesh does not want this alone time with Jesus. I don’t want him judging me like this. It was enough that he rescued me from sin and granted me freedom and has solved my problem of eternal life. I believed on him, got baptized, and now I’m heaven bound. And I go to church every sunday.

I don’t want to have any boundaries – especially on how to spend my personal alone-time. I have the right to myself.

And that’s exactly what Jesus took away from me the day I trusted him. I’m not mine anymore – I belong to Jesus Christ. He is my master and I’m his slave. I have no right to self. Look at this passage in John 21:15-17 (ESV):

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him,“Feed my sheep.”

In this one passage, Jesus re-defined Peter. He called Peter by name, and then gave him a new responsibility. Jesus did not change his identity (son of John), but gave him a new purpose. Jesus also clarified his calling – to Shepherd the church that was going to be built (not the church as a building with spiritual leaders like priests and fathers, but a universal body of believers). He called Peter to nourish the flock of believers in Christ. Peter was being set aside for the Lord – he no more had any right to self. No wonder Peter later spent the rest of his life taking the gospel into the world and serving the church that Jesus called him to serve.

I wonder how Peter’s alone-time changed after this.

If you know this Jesus Christ as your Lord and God, then come to terms with your new creation. Accept that you have no right to self. That does not mean it is sin to indulge in activities (like the one I listed above) that may not be used for his purpose. God wants us to rest and enjoy his blessings – but not unto selfishness that causes guilt – but unto building up of our spiritual and physical strength that causes gratefulness.

If you have not trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord, then let this be a warning to you. It is not trivial to follow Christ – the calling is important and not for those who refuse to give up their right to self. He wants it all. If you cannot do that, then wait. It is better to jump into this knowing the cost, instead of jumping without knowing what it means to carry your cross.

And he (Jesus) said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23 (ESV) 

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