Are we true followers of Christ, or just believers according to contemporary standards? What does it really mean to be a “follower” of Christ? Jesus said, “If any of you want to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:25). Taking up our cross means putting to death any plans or priorities that are self-centered and out of line with God’s will. We discover the will of God by first being willing to yield to God, letting Jesus be our Lord and Master. Being a disciple may involve some self-denial. The closest contemporary word to “disciple” is “apprentice”. We learn the Christian life by living it, often guided by others and by the time we spend in the Bible and on our knees. We may want to follow Jesus, but we sometimes are apt to tell Jesus what we need instead of surrendering to Him. When we pray, do we issue orders or report for duty? Discipleship means learning how to listen to Jesus, not getting Him to listen to us.
Jesus was approached by a wealthy young man (in Mark chapter 10) who wanted to know how to get to Heaven. He was disappointed to learn that Jesus wanted total commitment. Jesus knew that this young man had made an idol of wealth, and before we can come to God, we have to be willing to forsake anything that’s in the way. An idol is anything we trust in and love more than God. We can make an idol of our possessions, our education, even our relationships. When we put Jesus first, everything else in life fits into place. But it takes discipline to be a disciple. We need to make time for Bible study, worship, fellowship and Christian service. A pro football player expressed his passion for the game when he shared his personal motto: “Go hard or go home!” We could use the same commitment.
The time to be a follower of Jesus is NOW. It’s ludicrous to think, “I’ll visit people in the hospitals and prisons and nursing homes when I get to Heaven and have the time. I’ll tell people about Jesus and I’ll hand out Bibles to the lost.” We show that we believe Jesus by making Him part of every decision, every project. A man went to pick up his wife from church one Sunday. When she got into the car, he jokingly said, “So I guess the sermon’s finally over, huh?” She answered, “No, the sermon is only half-over. The Pastor is done preaching it, but now I need to go do it.” If we’re not living what we learn in church, all we’re left with are unfinished sermons. Let’s give the Master our all!
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