Saturday, February 17, 2007

To Follow Jesus

It is easy to follow Jesus when we agree with what He says. I feel more inclined to give when I have extra money in the bank, but it is a little hard to be generous when I am worried about paying the bills. I am okay with loving people until they do something to hurt me, then it is a little harder to love them. I love to preach risk taking and stepping out of our comfort zone, but it sure is another thing when I am actually faced with the opportunity to do something that will stretch me. A follower of Jesus doesn't get to pick and choose what commandments or teachings he or she is going to obey. A disciple of Jesus spends their lives trying to be like Him in every way they possibly can.

To be a Christ Follower means that we have submitted our entire lives to the will and teaching of Jesus. It is moving beyond agreeing with data or mentally agreeing with truth and changing they way we live based on who Jesus is and what He taught. Faith is not demonstrated merely when we do the things God has commanded us to do which make sense to us, but doing those things God has said that make absolutely no sense in the light of our understanding and situation. Through this type of living we learn to trust God more than we trust ourselves.

As they were walking along someone said to Jesus, "I will follow you no matter where you go."

But Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head."

He said to another person, "Come, be my disciple."

The man agreed, but he said, "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father."

Jesus replied, "Let those who are spiritually dead care for their own dead. Your duty is to go and preach the coming of the Kingdom of God."

Another said, "Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family."

But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of the God."
~ Luke 9:57-62; NLT

Each of these men had an excuse why they couldn't follow Jesus right a way. They believed in Jesus, they apparently agreed with His teaching, but what He asked them to do conflicted with what they wanted to do. Our faith is developed when we put aside those things we want to do and change those long held beliefs that we have so we can surrender to the will and teaching of Jesus.

There were many people who wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus reminded them what was expected of them. It wasn't just about following Jesus, witnessing miracles, listening to His teachings, and being part of a spiritual group. To follow Jesus meant to give up everything and do God's will. This is what separates the followers of Jesus from the fans of Jesus. It is the difference between merely believing and having true faith.

To really have faith in Jesus means that we do the things that don't make sense to us. Perhaps we give up our will paying job and enter the paid ministry, perhaps we pick up our family and move to a different country to be missionaries, perhaps we decide to give a little more money even though it will stretch the budget, or maybe we decide to quit just sitting in the pew and find a way to volunteer in order to use the talents God has given us.

Following Jesus isn't about our safety and dreams, but rather it is about doing God's will. When we learn to trust Jesus even when we don't understand the reasons or when we don't agree with God that is when our faith is able to mature and deepen. Following Jesus is about learning to trust God more than we trust ourselves.

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