I have been involved in a/the church for my entire life. I can not remember a time that I wasn’t attending worship services every single Sunday with very few exceptions. Even when I am on vacation, I find a church to attend and look for a pastor to encourage because they don’t get near enough of it. It’s in my DNA. I love it.
As I enter the second half of my life and after 40 years of attending churches, I’ve noticed that many people know the technicalities of the gospel but often miss the message of it. It’s simple really, Jesus consistently called out to others to “follow me”.
We spend so much time trying to craft the basics of salvation into a palatable and creative message but it is simple, just follow Jesus. Paul described the initial act of following as this…
“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9–10 (ESV)
So many spend their lives making sure they’ve completed these steps sufficiently to go to heaven one day, when all it is just the first step to following Jesus. To love the way He loved, to care for the least of these, to build up the body of Christ/the church, to demonstrate the gospel by the actions we live and not just the words we use. Just follow Him. Know and live out His word, make decisions that honor Jesus, and live a life that reflects His life not your own desires. It is my belief that people who are not following have never truly understood or accepted the gospel.
For those that do, they often look unconventional. Some people call them weird or even accuse them of being closed minded…at least to the outside world. But the truth, for me and others that are spending their lives as followers, it is a breath of fresh air. To walk with Jesus is beyond anything I could ever gain in this world. To know the Truth and know that He is always there…is priceless. To have the opportunity to go where He leads and experience a life that only watching Jesus can provide is worth all the sacrifice that it requires. In the end, following Jesus isn’t a sacrifice at all because He is the true prize.
But still, people miss it. Their prize is heaven or their expectation of it, that perfect painless, fully content place that they want one day. For now, many are trying to create that for themselves through their jobs, their houses, their lifestyles, their friends, or their hobbies. They avoid sacrifice and pain because that idyllic life shouldn’t have those things. And if they haven’t seen the beauty of Jesus, they become entranced with the tarnished beauty of the world. Following Jesus declares that I have found the true prize and I will go wherever He goes no matter where that leads and heaven will be incredible, not because it will be perfect, but because that is where Jesus we will finally see Jesus face to face…
Are you following?