January 11 I Monday
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” —Matthew 22:37
A little over a decade ago, when I was visiting Japan, I noticed in a lot of Japanese homes, as part of their Shinto and Buddhist beliefs, a strategic place for something called “the god shelf.” It is like a little altar and on it are symbols of gods that the family worships. I was talking to a Christian worker in Japan about the god shelf one time and he told me, “You know, sometimes you talk about Christ to people and they become very interested. They start to go to church and they say, ‘Yes, I want Jesus.’ But what they end up doing is moving the things on the god shelf a little bit and sticking something to symbolize Christ, probably a cross or a statue of Jesus.” I thought about what he said for a bit, and then I responded, “You know what? That is exactly what so many people in the West do as well. Although they do not have a god shelf, they do say, ‘I want Jesus. Yeah, it would be nice to have Jesus in my life; it will help me a lot. I’ll move some of these other things and I will stick Jesus on it as well.’”
But when Jesus comes to occupy the god shelf, He sweeps it clean of every god, from our business to our money to our human ambitions, and subjects it to His lordship. We will discover, even though we may have to go to work on Monday morning, it becomes totally secondary to what is important to us, as we focus our attention on, What is the purpose of Jesus Christ in my life? All other things, which are part of our life, derive their significance from their relation to Him and His purpose. While we still have to look after our families, clean the house, make the meals, go to work and go about our business, there is a wholesome, healthy freedom from them because Jesus Christ has become the central focus of our life.
Have we ever had an experience with Jesus Christ that makes everything else relatively unimportant? Some of us Christians may only have Jesus on the god shelf, but have not swept it clean. In other words, He is part of our life, but He is not the centre of our life. We give Him His day on Sunday and then He is forgotten for the rest of the week. Would we make the commitment to get rid of the god shelf and allow Jesus to go deep, surrendering our whole life to Him and inviting Him to fill our life with Himself and take full charge?
Prayer: Precious Lord, I do not want You on the god shelf. I want You to become the central focus of my life. I surrender my whole life to You, come and take full charge. Thank You, Lord.