BEING A CHRIST FOLLOWER
The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Being a Christ Follower
Have you decided to follow Jesus? I’m not asking if you have asked him to enter your life. I’m not asking if you have accepted him as your Savior. I’m not even asking if you have been baptized. There is nothing wrong with any of these commitments, but I submit to you that there are many who have claimed to have asked Jesus into their lives, accepted Jesus as Savior and even been baptized who have never fully made the commitment to follow him all the way. He calls us to be disciples. The word “disciple” means to be a “learner.” In biblical times the rabbis (teachers) had disciples who did more than study their teachings. They patterned their lives after the teacher. Jesus was and is always looking for disciples.
In Luke 9:57-62 we find Jesus seeking out disciples; people who would surrender their lives to follow him completely.
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
It may have seemed glamorous to become a follower of such a popular teacher. Afterall, the crowds loved to see him heal the sick and teach the good news of salvation and anyone connected with Jesus could be a semi-celebrity. But when the man asked to be a follower of Jesus, he had no idea as to what kind of sacrifice and personal commitment would be required to be one of his disciples.
Jesus explained that being his follower meant poverty. It meant giving up the comforts of life. It meant hardship and pain. It meant friends turning against you.
Jesus never soft-sold his message. He explained that following him was very hard. It would require poverty, sacrifice, discomfort and pain.
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
To follow Jesus was to put him first above all earthly commitments. To us, the request to bury his father first, at first look, does not seem unreasonable. But Jesus wanted him to see that even burying a dead father did not compare with the urgency of proclaiming the eternal message of the Kingdom of God. People who are dead cannot be helped. The message of Christ is life, not death. Often we put our dead earthly commitments ahead of our life-giving commitment to Christ. He should always be the priority of the true disciple.
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
How much valuable time is lost when we go back? The urgency of Christ’s message is often overlooked by many who claim to be his followers. We look back at how easy life was before. Fear of the present and future takes over as we look back at what used to be. Spiritual fitness requires faith in where God is taking us. Remember the tremendous description of faith in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Faith requires confidence in the future Christ brings, and assurance in what will one day be seen when he makes it known.
If you keep looking back, you will never get where God is leading you. To look back is to yearn for what once was and to lose focus on the future. Can you imagine how snaky and crooked the farmer’s rows would be if he kept looking at where he had been instead of where he was going?
One of the great Disciples of Jesus Christ, Paul, described his way of following Jesus in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Paul had a past that was both glorious and unsavory. He was always moving forward. A follower of Christ cannot keep looking back at his past glories or sins. He must keep looking at where Jesus is leading him. The future is where the glory lies. Heavenward, is where Jesus calls us.
Jesus never lived a life of ease. He kept his heavenly priorities ahead of the earthly ones. He never wasted his time looking back. He always kept his mission in focus. As followers of Jesus, our goal should always be to become more like him, to continue his mission, to move toward the glory he has for all who follow him.
Have you decided to follow Jesus?
This weekend, a longtime friend of mine, Artie Carnes, will be at First Christian Church to lead in a Seminar that will help us to build discipleship. Artie will focus on what a disciple is and, equally as important, what a disciple does. He will teach on practical ways the church can make disciples and be disciples. I hope you will join us for this exciting weekend. Details and scheduling can be found in the FCC newsletter.
Being a Christ Follower with you,