Let's take a look at what 100% devotion looks like. This is very important. It is a big ask and God knows this, which is why we have a ready made plan set before us and no, it is not the bible. Your plan, the blueprint, map, or path, is a living person. If we had lived in the first century, in Corinth, and attended Paul's meetings, we would have had a pretty good person to follow in Paul. Paul shows us this when he says in 1 Corinthians 4:16 to follow his example, to imitate him. Paul urges this imitation. Later, in 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul adds the phrase, "as I am of Christ". We are looking for living example, Paul is not living though we can find examples in his epistles of what devotion looks like.
We are going to work backwards, beginning with a hymn sung by some of the earliest believers:
Philippians 2:5-11 The Message Bible
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, —and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.
Focus on the phrase, "he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death". Now, can you imagine living a completely selfless life? Seriously, selfless. Never a thought of yourself, ever. Nothing you did was for you. A couple of nights ago I traveled to Buffalo, NY with one of my brothers and my son to a rock concert, which was outstanding. The day before the show my wife asked if I was excited, of course I was, then she asked wouldn't you rather stay home with me? Wow! There is a loaded question. I responded with a half-truth, yes I would, but I also would like to spend it at the show! Is this a good example? I think it is, obviously my wife was not going to ask me to stay home, but when Jesus lived among us the idea of not going to the show was very real. Jesus lived for one being, God. Jesus was completely selfless!
John 5:19 NRSV
Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.
The son, Jesus, could do NOTHING on his own! I believe this was a very factual statement, no tongue-in-cheek joking around. Jesus only did what God was doing through him. That is 100% devotion. Jesus gave it all. Does God require this of us? Jesus gave a couple of clues.
Matthew 16:24-25 NRSV
Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 19:16-24 tells the story of the rich young man. He wants to enter the kingdom and is very troubled at Jesus explanation regarding how to enter. Jesus gives some simple commandments which the young man says he has already done. Then comes the deal breaker, give all of your riches away. The young mans riches were his identity, if it was money, his money was who he was. It occurred to me recently that we could put Paul's name (Saul) as the young man. Paul was rich in heritage and in the law. If Paul was the young man, he left hanging on to his identity rather than that of Jesus. If we see this as Paul, he hung on to it so tightly that he eventually became bitter and raged against Jesus by persecuting Jesus' followers. Imagine Paul hearing the news that Jesus was dead and feeling empowered to persecute the mindless followers of Jesus. Then Paul had the visit, I can imagine God remembering the young man's visit to the living Jesus and thinking that Paul would be perfect for the work, after he was knocked down from his high horse. Paul tells of this very fact in Philippians 3. Now I am not suggesting that the rich young man was in fact Paul, but I believe it is an excellent illustration. Give this some thought by putting yourself in the story, what are you rich in? How does it identify you?
So, there are many examples of how we should be living in God's kingdom, but there is just one true ask. It is the one that I said borders on impossible. In fact, right now, it is impossible. We are a work in progress and thankfully we have a God of patience. Can we still live in the kingdom? Yes, I believe we can, in moments of power. The real power is in the total surrender of ourselves for the sake of others.