Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jesus Under House Arrest

For a long time, people thought the earth was the center of the universe. They thought this for two reasons: The stars, sun, and planets seem to revolve around the earth each day, and also, the earth does not seem to move when your standing on it. Pretty simple. I mean, any 8 year old could tell you that.

The church was especially adamant about this claim. After all, they felt they had scriptures to support it (Ps. 93:1, 1 Chron. 16:30, Ecc. 1:5). They were so adamant, in fact, that those who proposed theories or ideas that contradicted geocentrism were considered heretics. Many of these "heretics" were imprisoned and even executed.

This is why Galileo was put under house arrest... for life.

Heliocentrism--the model of the solar system in which the sun is at the center and not the earth--had been around for a while but the church had done everything it could to thwart it. Galileo pleaded with the church, claiming that heliocentrism was not contrary to scripture and that the church may not be interpreting the scriptures correctly. However, they still ordered him not to discuss or defend the possibility that everything revolved around the sun.

A few years later, Galileo wrote about heliocentrism in a book that really ticked the Pope off. He stood trial in 1633 and he was found guilty of heresy for making claims that the earth was not in a central, favored position. The Inquisition forced Galileo to "abjure, curse, and detest" his recent claims. All of his works--past, present, and future--were banned and Galileo was sentenced to spend the remainder of his life under house arrest.

A few days ago, I read something that Jesus said and it has echoed in my head ever since:

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me" - Luke 9:23

Let's be brutally honest with ourselves for a moment...

Think about how we live everyday. If we were honest, we would admit that our days are spent trying to do things that we think will satisfy us. We want to do certain things, so we do them. We want to watch certain things, so we watch them. We want to have certain things, so we buy them. We want to say certain things, so we say them. We want to eat certain things, so we eat them. Truthfully, we are selfish, self-centered, self-consumed, self-absorbed, self-interested, self-seeking, and self-serving. Maybe, just maybe, there are moments in which we are altruistic and benevolent, but upon honest, longitudinal examination we see ourselves for what we truly are: narcissistic.

This presents a major problem: Jesus says that if we want to follow him, WE MUST DENY OURSELVES. If you want to follow Jesus you must forsake your possessions (Matthew 19:16-30). If you want to follow Jesus you must forsake your family (Luke 9:59-62). If you want to follow Jesus you must forsake your career (Matthew 4:19-20). If you want to follow Jesus you must forsake your desires (Phillipians 3:8). If you want to follow Jesus you must forsake EVERYTHING.

I can't do, say, buy, watch, and eat whatever I want! It's that simple AND that practical. I have to sacrifice my plans, relationships, dreams, and desires. I must choose to put Jesus first. I must choose to put others first. "I" no longer matters. "Me" is no longer my concern. When I choose to follow Jesus, I must wake up and choose to deny myself everyday.

A friend recently asked me what I thought it meant to "walk and live in the spirit." The answer is simple: it is to deny yourself. You can't say it any better than Paul did when he penned to the Galations, "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Galations 5:16). Not gratifying your desires IS walking in the spirit. Walking in the spirit is not gratifying your desires. Too bad we don't always walk the walk.

Instead, we go over our heads in debt. We destroy relationships with greed and envy. We are prideful and arrogant. We make a habit of eating food that we know is not good for us because we like it. We don't want to sit in the backseat, so we yell "shotgun" before our friend does so we can sit up front, without even considering what our friend wants. We stand outside at a store, all night, in the cold, on Black Friday so we can buy new stuff for ourselves. We spend our days doing whatever we can to make ourselves happy, comfortable, and fulfilled. We don't deny ourselves of anything that we desire. We treat ourselves like we're in some sort of central, favored position.

I feel that Jesus is doing today, what Galileo did almost 400 years ago. He is is standing before the church, pleading with us to see that our model of the universe is inaccurate. That everything does not revolve around us. That we are not the center of the universe.

He is not calling us to be in a central, favored position. However, we have scriptures to support this view of the universe, so anything else is heresy! After all, Malachi 3:10 says that God will pour out blessings on us until they are overflowing and 3 John says that we may prosper in all things. So we use these scriptures as excuses for getting what we want, for setting ourselves in the middle of everything. We take a few scriptures about blessings and prosperity out of context and use them as ammunition against the many things that Jesus says about sacrifice and surrender. We wage war against our very own savior. We are no different than the church Galileo was dealing with almost 400 years ago: we use scripture to justify our beliefs, as opposed to using scripture to construct our beliefs.

We put Jesus under house arrest.

We keep him confined in a place we don't really have to deal with him. Now, we can stay comfortable, but if we ever do need him, we know where he is.


As cheesy as this is, the Son needs to be the center of your universe. If you claim to be his follower, you have no other choice. If he is not the center of everything that you do, every single day, then you are not following. Period. You have to choose every day to follow him. In big and little things. It may not be comfortable or satisfying to your flesh, but thats what sacrifice is. He sacrificed for you, its your turn.

Every morning you must choose to take up your cross and follow Jesus. You must choose all day long to deny yourself. Why not start today? If you believe that nothing is better than knowing Christ, what's holding you back? "Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded EVERYTHING else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ." (Phillipians 3:8)

It took a while for science to convince the church that the earth was not the center of the universe. Actually, the Vatican didn't officially acquit Galileo of heresy until 1993--360 years after his trial, 354 years after his death.

How long is it going to take for you to realize you're not the center of the universe?

Hopefully, not 360 years.


  1. This is pretty awesome stuff. I'll probably share it with a few friends. Its definitely helpful with understanding the whole self centered life that our society lives which is something i definitely struggle with.

  2. we live in a world where the material is a necessity. where does YOUR want to make good music fall into this? YOUR want to expand your mind by going to college? YOUR want to have a GOOD job not just one that pays enough so you can survive? as much we may want to live like this, its just not realistic unless we tuck ourselves away in a forest or something. not all of it is impossible but a lot of it is just not viable if you are to survive in the world in which we live today.