Why I Stopped Asking Jesus Into My Life

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I shouldn’t quibble with words. The fact that the Bible never talks about asking Jesus into our life should not be an issue, and it isn’t. At the same time, words can give the right or the wrong impressions. What impression do you have if I say to you, “I have asked a mentor to come and help me improve.” Or perhaps, “I’ve invited my aged parents to come live with me.” Both of these are good things. But when we substitute Jesus into the mix, we begin to see the problem of inviting Jesus into our life.

The line: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul” is more well-known than the poem where it is found (Invictus), or the poet who wrote it. Like many Christians, I find something attractive about this spirit of self-determination. But that is because there is something dark in me that draws me to this idea.

The poet of Invictus is an avowed atheist and wrote this poem as a middle-finger to fate. He is saying, “By the way, if there is a God, to you too!” How then can this insult to God appeal to me! It appeals to the sin in me. The pride in me.

Yes, God has given us the right to choose. Yes, that makes us the master of our fate, the captain of our soul. Yes, he will not intervene if we choose to sail on rocks that wreck our life. Yes, we are the master of our fate, the captain of our soul.

When Jesus calls his disciples, he didn’t once say, “Include me in your life, invite me in.” Instead he invites them into his life. He is asking if we will give up our life and place it in his hands. Jesus sees Simon and Andrew fishing for a living. “’Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:19-20). Jesus didn’t say, “Can I join you as a fishermen? Will you take me in as your business partner?”

Jesus never asked to be invited into anyone’s life. Your life and mine are inferior. Jesus is not an optional extra we include into our life. He is saying, “Put your life in my hands, and I will take you on an adventure you cannot even dream about.”

Jesus is not the support for your vision. Jesus is your vision. Jesus is not the mentor you invite while you are captain of your soul. Jesus is the captain who takes over your ship. It doesn’t matter how much you elevate Jesus, as long as you keep him your servant, and you the master, you have missed the point.

Deeply devout Christians understand the rebellion against God in the poem Invictus. Dorothy Day responds with a poem entitled “Conquered,” which ends with this stanza:

I have no fear though straight the gate:?
He cleared from punishment the scroll.?
Christ is the Master of my fate!?
Christ is the Captain of my soul!

When we surrender our life to Jesus, as did the first disciples, we begin an incredible adventure. We lose our puny vision and redeem our insatiable appetites. When Jesus takes over, we will be like the woman at the well who loses her shame to become the first evangelist on record. We lose that endless thirst like hers and discover that the Holy Spirit of God makes our heart a spring that bubbles out fresh living water.

Tradition calls her Photini. She places her life in the hands of Jesus. Jesus becomes the Captain of her soul. And she becomes the inspiration of all who live in thirst, in need, in shame, in the shadows. Tradition calls her “equal to the Apostles” because she is the first disciple-maker. Her life becomes an adventure.

Every life that is surrendered to Jesus becomes its own epic story of adventure, made possible because even when the last breath is drawn, the veil will part and a new life begins – even more glorious than the last. 

Pastor Peter Eng

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