Posts

Do You Follow?

Jesus was so secure with who He was that He had no anxiety being around the dysfunction of others. He was never concerned that being around “those people” would somehow rub off on Him.

He would comfortably interact with rich & poor, sinners & self-righteous. His comfort would extend beyond Himself to make those trapped in their own dysfunction believe they could follow Him and find something more.

They followed Him.

Following led to belief. Belief led to obedience. Today, no matter what you believe or how you behave, regardless of doubts, denial or dysfunction…

Follow Him.

Follow Me: FLIPPED, Upside-Down Living

Most of us get it backwards. We think the key to the life we’ve always wanted is to believe the right things and behave the right way. Just take a look at social media. Facebook Philosophers regularly post one-liners, pics and quotes intended to inspire, challenge, convict and guilt people into changing what they believe and how they behave. We see this in politics as well. We pass laws based on our beliefs designed to manage someone’s behavior with words on a page.

It makes sense that we would think the key to success in life is belief and behavior. They’re both measurable. One by what we say. The other by what we do. But when it comes to discovering and living spiritual truth there is a far more important practice than belief and behavior. It’s the way Jesus did it and it’s far less complicated than we want to make it.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

When Jesus approached Peter, James and John, three fishermen on the shore of the sea of Galilee, he didn’t give them a list of qualifications. He never asked for their résumé. He simply said, “Follow me.” Later Jesus goes to Matthew. He’s working in the tax office. Jesus doesn’t look at Matthew and say, “Believe this, obey that.” Instead, he looks at Matthew and says, “Follow me.”

We see this pattern in the Old Testament too. God goes to Noah and later Abraham and essentially says, “Follow me.” And they do. Most people think of religion as a list of rules and regulations. When I say Old Testament I’m guessing one of the first things that comes to mind is the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments were first given to Moses. Moses lived about 600 years after Abraham. For 600 years there was no list, only one explicit request, “Follow me.”

When asked what made Jesus tick he responded simply, “I do the things I see my Father do. I say the things I hear my Father say.” In other words Jesus said, “I follow him.”

We get it backwards. We try to convince ourselves and everyone else that if we will believe the right things and behave the right way only then we can follow Jesus. But that’s not what Jesus said. He said, “Follow me.”

Follow him long enough and belief will come. We see that in the Disciples. Following leads to belief. Belief leads to changed behavior.

We understand this. We do it everyday on Facebook and Twitter. We click “like”. We press “follow”.  And suddenly we receive regular updates about the thoughts and actions of the people we find interesting. We may agree or disagree. But either way, the people we follow influence the thoughts we have.

I don’t know what you think about Jesus or Christianity. Maybe you don’t put a lot stock in anything spiritual or religion related. Maybe you grew up in church. Maybe you’ve been burned. Maybe you’re doing all the right things, all the right way. No matter where you are, you’re in a good place to start. My challenge for you today isn’t that you would change your beliefs or behavior, but that you would, for a season try one simple thing.

“Follow him.”

Let me be clear. I don’t mean follow his followers. I mean follow him. Go to Biblegateway.com or YouVersion.com. Search for the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John in the New Living Translation and start reading. Read a little every day. Let’s say, one chapter each day. It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. I read things online or in the newspaper everyday I don’t believe. Just like checking Facebook or Twitter get in the habit of reading a chapter from the Bible each day. Follow him.

These thoughts inspired by Andy Stanley.

Sacrifice: Loving Something More, Trusting God to Provide

Philippians 3

SCRIPTURE

Philippians 3:14-16, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet, indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” (NKJV)

OBSERVATION

I often hear people talk of salvation as a free gift from God. It’s true. The forgiveness God gives is free. He has paid the debt we owe because of our sin. It was a debt we could never pay. He didn’t do this because we deserved it, but because we needed it and his love for us is so deep, so strong, so unconditional that he willingly sacrificed the life of his only son for you and me. Because of this sacrifice you have been or can be forgiven of the worst thing you’ve ever done. The good news is better than that, however. Because of his sacrifice you can be forgiven of the worst thing you haven’t done yet. This free gift of God is complete and comes with no strings attached.

I don’t know what this does in you. For me, I am humbled by the thought that God would do this for me. The sense of gratitude I feel toward God because of his gift is overwhelming. It creates in me a desire to give my life to him, for him, and to live in a way that honors him. I don’t do this in order to earn his favor. I already have that. I choose to live this way out of love for him. That’s when I realize, my salvation may be free, but following Christ will cost me something. It’s a price I am eager to pay.

In these verses Paul says something similar. At the beginning of the chapter Paul gives us his résumé and then tells us he’s given up all of that in order to pursue Christ. Becoming a Christ-follower cost him something. It wasn’t a price that was demanded. It was a price Paul willingly paid because of his desire to honor Christ. I think Paul would call it a sacrifice. I have two preferred definitions of sacrifice.

  1. Giving up something you love for the sake of something you love even more.
  2. Giving up more than you think you can afford and trusting God to provide.

APPLICATION

What has following Christ cost you? What sacrifices have you made in order to honor Christ with your life and your choices? If sacrifice means giving up something you love for the sake of something you love even more then what do your choices show that you really love? Is there something in your life you choose to follow or to pursue more than Christ? If so, you’ve found the thing you love more than him. You’ve sacrificed part of your relationship with him for that thing you chose instead. Is God leading you to give up more than you think you can afford? Paul was there. I’ve been there. Let me assure you, if God is asking you to give it God can be trusted to supply it, exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think. Trust him.

Your salvation is free. Genuinely following Christ will likely cost you something. How far are you willing to go?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for you for wiping the slate clean. Thank you for forgiving me of the worst thing I’ve ever done the worst thing I’ll ever do, and everything in between. Today, I want to follow you. I don’t want to run ahead of you or lag behind you. I simply want to go where you lead and do what honors you. Out of gratitude for your gift of grace I want to honor you with my choices even when doing so costs me something. I want to say, “costs me everything.” But I’m not sure I can keep that promise. So, give me the strength and endurance to keep my word, even when it costs me something…everything.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad