09 Apr How to Follow Jesus Christ
I can’t begin to tell you how full my heart was after this past Sunday. It was incredible to see so many people here on site and to also gather with so many of you online as we honored and sung and celebrated the Resurrection of Christ together. Thank you for being a part of it!
From everything that happened in the service–that amazing dramatic performance, that gripping dance and our new song (we’re working on getting that officially recorded and released!)–to everything outdoors in the parking lot–the photo booth, the coffee bar and the prayer tent–it was remarkable to be a part of it all. Again, thank you.
I want to take a few moments here and bring you a little deeper into what we began to look at last Sunday, what we are going to be talking about for the next few weeks, which is our new sermon series: How to Follow Jesus Christ.
The series, as you may have heard, is all about the topic of discipleship as seen through the lens of the one many consider Jesus’ “first” disciple, Simon Peter.
What is discipleship? Maybe that’s a new term for you; maybe it’s a familiar one.
Simply put, in the most basic Christian terms, discipleship is the choice to follow, and increasingly become like, Jesus Christ. Since the beginning of the Christian movement in the world, discipleship has always been assumed to be part and parcel of a Christian’s life.
And as always, if Jesus talks about it–which He does, repeatedly–it seems wise to continually come back to it.
I want to, therefore, lay out four things quickly: four implications of discipleship for the one following Jesus Christ.
What does discipleship mean? Discipleship means:
1.) Allegiance, not only belief.
After all, Jesus doesn’t just call us to believe in Him; He also calls us to follow Him.
2.) Directionality, not necessarily certainty.
When Jesus looked at Peter on that beach that day in Galilee and said, “Follow me,” Jesus was not telling Peter where, exactly, he would be going. Jesus did tell Peter who he would be chasing around Israel!
We long for the certainty of a place; Jesus offers us the directionality of His person.
We desire the dependability of a location; Jesus offers us the directionality of His leadership.
There’s a difference.
Discipleship means we both literally and figuratively “go after” Jesus.
3.) Exercising faith, not merely developing strategy.
When we come to tough spots in our lives, it’s easy to just fall back on our own intellect or resources as the key indicator of whether or not we are going to make it.
But Hebrews 11 doesn’t say, “By strategy, people following God overcame obstacles.” What does it say? “By faith…”
If we understood everything, we wouldn’t need faith.
Discipleship means we continually position our hearts in the truth that God is able to lead us and carry us despite our circumstances!
4.) An eternal focus; not just a temporal glance.
“What does it profit a person to gain the world,” Jesus asked, “and forfeit their soul?”
The implication? Not much, if anything.
Discipleship means we focus daily on Jesus, not just on our to-do lists, as important as those are.
But, let’s say for a moment, we remain under the illusion that we can say yes to believing in Jesus, but not yes to following Him.
What are the costs, then, to that approach? What does it cost us if we don’t do that?
What is the cost of non-discipleship in a Christian’s life?
Consider these words (probably my all-time favorite quote on the topic) from the late Dallas Willard, a long-time professor at USC and a prophetic voice to the body of Christ:
“Non-discipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil.
In short, it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring. The cross-shaped yoke of Christ is, after all, an instrument of liberation and power to those who live in it with Him and learn the meekness and lowliness of heart that brings rest to the soul…the correct perspective is to see following Christ not only as the necessity it is, but as the fulfillment of the highest human possibilities and as life on the highest plane.”
– The Spirit of the Disciplines
Who were you meant to become? Who could you become? Who could we become, together?
The truth is, we will never know until we follow Jesus Christ.
Peter did it, and he changed the world.
Why not us?