Following Jesus….or men?
In Nigeria, we have people who have declared loyalty to one personality such that they would rather Nigeria fails than that the leader they didn’t vote for succeeds (being that his success is Nigeria’s success). This is the spillover of the attitude of Christians who follow human beings doggedly rather than follow Christ such that they are blind to the fallibility of their ‘leader’ and swallow everything they hear hook, line and sinker without going to verify for themselves with the help of the Holy Spirit, our Teacher, if indeed the scriptures say what they were told.
So I ask myself, ‘Are we to follow men or to follow Jesus’?
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.…..Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Luke 9:23; Matthew 10:38, NIV)
The life of a true worshipper will involve thee three components:
- We must deny ourselves
Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside (1 Corinthians 9:27, TLB)
If we obey our natural desires, we will live lives that displease the One who redeemed us by the blood of His Son. Our spirits got a rebirth but our bodies need to be trained to do what pleases the Father, and this is done by the renewal of our minds with the Word of Truth (Romans 12:2). It is a conscious and deliberate effort to feed our minds with God’s truth which the Holy Spirit uses to do a work within us and when we are in situations where our heart is saying one thing and our ‘flesh’ is saying another thing, it’s up to us to deny ourselves the short-term relief that some form of compromise will bring. That training is our own responsibility but we have grace from God to enable us do it.
Like our Example, Jesus, we acknowledge our desires but at each point in time, our conclusion should be, “yet not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV)
- We must take up our cross daily
For we naturally love to do evil things that are just the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do; and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has his way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires. These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us, and our wishes are never free from their pressures…..Those who belong to Christ have nailed their natural evil desires to his cross and crucified them there. (Galatians 5:17, 24, TLB)
Because of the cross, our interest in all the attractive things of the world was killed long ago, and the world’s interest in us is also long dead (Galatians 6:14) and we need to walk in this consciousness DAILY because the lure of the world is one we face daily from the moment we wake up in the morning and especially when we step out of the safe cocoon of our homes where we have made Jesus the centre and step out into the marketplace where self and money are at the centre of every pursuit.
- We must follow Jesus
Jesus did not come to Earth, do all He did, die and resurrect just for us to answer altar calls and then go on living like nothing has changed in our lives. His intention was that we would become His disciples, learning from Him and living like Him. His constant instruction was, “Follow me.” We cannot say we serve Him if we don’t follow Him (John 12:26).
What does it mean to follow Christ?
It means to accept Him as our Master and Teacher, and to walk the same path of life that He walked (Matthew 4:19, AMP)
The Plus and ‘Minus’ of Following Christ are –
– Whoever follows Christ will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)
– We are an oddity in the society because the things that are important to men are often inconsequential to God and He would have us learn His own culture (way of doing and prioritizing things). He would often ask us to do stuff that our flesh (natural inclinations) would fight, especially if obeying Him would make us appear foolish to men (see Luke 9:58-62).
– We are totally dependent on hearing God in order to follow Him, without which we are lost and confused like sheep without a shepherd (John 10:27). While it can be scary to lose our independence in our walk with God, it is also exciting. The life of faith (which is the life that pleases God) is the ultimate rollercoaster ride on mountain peaks, plains and valleys. Sometimes, it feels like we’re going to drown and the world is offering life boats that come with one compromise or the other that would displease God, but when we hang in there, Jesus always brings us out of the storm how and when He chooses.
A note of warning
Our walk with Jesus is a very personal one and we do ourselves a disservice when we try to compare what is going on in our lives with what is going on in another Christian’s life. We each have a course to run and we run to please only one Person – God. (Jn.21:21-22)
So we make it our goal to please him….. (2 Corinthians 5:9a, NIV)