Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Christian or Follower of Jesus?

"But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick." Matthew 14:13-14

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.  

I always start off with a verse. But this time, it was just necessary so the visual is in your mind as you read.  Jesus spent a lot of time speaking to multitudes. It seemed He couldn't get away from them.  They'd crowd Him because they were so interested and impressed with what He had to say and/or what He was doing.  I can imagine the teenagers at this time running out of their high schools in the afternoon, "Dude, lets go watch Jesus heal people." But I titled this blog Christian or Follower of Jesus because I'm asking you, which are you? If you're asking, "Aren't they the same thing? Honestly, good question.  Because if you hadn't asked that, this approaching transition wouldn't work out right. 

Why are they different?  

Well, technically, they really aren't supposed to be.  The term Christian has been watered down in this generation as this fashionable accessory, maybe even an expensive necklace---we'll only wear on special occasions. Or even further, its the description of what "type" of the religion that people believe in, such as, "I'm a Muslim, I'm a Buddhist, I'm a Christian." Not necessarily follow, but I do know about Jesus. 

Now don't get caught up in the titles, because "Christian" actually does mean followers of Christ or being Christ-like.  But we're going to look at following Jesus or TRULY following Jesus.  Because to follow Jesus, there are some conditions. And here's where it gets sticky.  

So, we have the multitude.  They are going to be the average 21st Century Christian.  Only show up when Jesus is doing something cool, when He's not, they're not interested.  They kind of come and go as they please, trying to time it right so they can take advantage of the blessings, whether its by entertainment or actually getting healed. Or even, they could be a firm follower of Jesus, the kind that show up everyday when they know Jesus is preaching that day, but haven't put for an effort to get close enough to Him to get to know Him.  When life is tough, they'll come seeking Jesus.  There's something about seeing other people healed or His presence that can make them feel better.  And when life gets better, hey, I actually want to stay home with my family and not follow Jesus walking around everywhere---and now Jesus is forgotten about.  Being this kind of Christian is easy, its comfortable.  Not very profitable, unless its to our standards.  "As long as Jesus continues to bless us like He's been doing, I'll ride this thing all the way to Judgment Day."  But um, be careful.  Matthew says this,  "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." Matthew 7:13. 

The narrow gate of course would be the road less traveled, and it's the one that is also less desired.  It's the one that cost a lot.  A certain young ruler know about that cost. (Luke 18:18-23)  He asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell everything and follow Him--which this request is very similar to what happened with those other followers amongst the crowd, the disciples. (There maybe could have been 13 disciples, if the young ruler would have acted right). Now, this is where the other option to the question comes into play. A true follower of Jesus Christ.  One who has, "Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." Luke 9:23.  Now don't focus so much on details.  It sounds like the young ruler had to give up more for Jesus, and that's not true.  See what Jesus was testing in this young ruler and ultimately tests in all of us is our willingness to deny OURSELVES, which are things that we consider will make us happy or will complete us.  Whatever it is that we've sat up as an idol and have changed our behavior around (which is a form of worship)--giving up those things and taking up your cross to follow Him.  The disciples, who's occupations were recorded in scripture, left behind careers to follow Jesus.  And poor Peter.  Jesus had just blessed them to get an abundance in his career and then asked him to leave it to follow him.  Now, I'm sure its safe to assume that the disciples benefited greatly from these decisions.  Even though it seemed they were losing a lot, but in a heavenly realm, they gained a lot.  

So what's your point Claude?

The Christian in this example, in this generation, are generally thinking only of themselves.  We enjoy God enough for ourselves.  They may be working in the church or participating where they should be, but its all for other reasons besides being a servant of Jesus.  Basically the true heart to heart connection isn't there.  And this is not to condemn, please don't take this the wrong way.  I'm trying to introduce this in a way that its desirable to be a disciple, so lets head into that.  

The disciple.  The follower of Jesus.  They got to hang out with the Savior.  They prayed with him, laughed and joked with him. (Not in scripture, but surely they shared some giggles.) They spent time with Him, but most importantly though, they allowed Jesus to breathe purpose into them.  Don't miss that.  Jesus was able to breathe into them purpose.  Jesus is aware that if a person is following a person, an imitation is naturally to occur.  So these disciples were starting to become imitations of Jesus because they were getting to know Him.  And in doing this, His heart and passion became planted in them.  And He wants to do the same thing for you.  His heart for the lost will naturally become yours and you'll desire your actions to mimic that.  And let me just share this from experience, there is no greater feeling than this right here.  There IS NO greater feeling than this, no exaggeration. So take this opportunity to think of where you stand in the multitude.  Are you the outsider looking in? Or the insider looking out? Are following Jesus around the Middle East, or are you following Jesus through His life.  He does have a journey He wants to take you on with Him.  And let me just say from experience, it's such a good ride too.   

1 comment:

  1. Jesus is aware that if a person is following a person, an imitation is naturally to occur. - Preach. Awesome blog. Let's not forget how incredibly human the disciples were. Keep going forth, bro!