By Elaine Baldwin| @elainehbaldwin
Follow Jesus. Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
Love and Jesus do go together because He is Love. If you want to love, follow Jesus.
The problem for many who want to be Christian is that they have a watered down idea of what it means to follow Jesus… all of Him…not just the parts we like or that are easy. A quick look into Jesus’ own stated requirements for following Him will quickly separate true disciples from the wannabes. Our theme verse (Matthew 16:24) give us the first two stipulations.
#1 Deny Self: If we are not true followers of Christ we will rarely pass this very first test of “followship.” Without Jesus as our Savior and Lord all our righteousness will remain as filthy rags (Is. 64:6) and we will not follow if there isn’t something in it for us.
#2 Take Up Cross: I find it interesting that some of us are so quick to tell as many as will listen that we are carrying a heavy load for Jesus: “Such-n-such is our cross to bear” Really? First of all such a declaration negates requirement #1 because “our cross to bear” is all about us and not about Jesus.
Second of all I believe there are very few of us Christ-followers who even come close to carrying the true cost of the Gospel. We may follow Jesus with a few twigs in our hands, but a cross…not many of us are truly willing to follow with that perpetual burden.
Some of the other requirements are found in Matthew 4:19, Matthew 19:21, and Mark 2:14.
#3 Be Fishers of Men: If we are to follow Jesus we are to be seeking out and fishing for potential new followers of Jesus. A true fisherman (of fish) doesn’t just read about the fish or get training about how to fish or observe the fish or hang out with the fish or talk to the fish. A real fisherman goes to where the fish are, puts a bait on his hook, puts the hook on the line and casts the line into the water and then reels in his catch.
A fisher of men can do no less. There is one big difference though and it is vitally important. We must cast the line in, but it is the Holy Spirit that does the reeling. If we think otherwise we are right back at requirement #1. Funny how we keep going back to #1.
#4 Sell All We Have: Well now that smacks right in the face of so much prosperity gospel out there these days. Grant it, to keep this requirement in its context…Jesus very well could have given this as a specific requirement to this specific rich young ruler. It doesn’t necessarily mean we are all supposed to go out and sell all we have. But, what if it does? Don’t want to follow down that path, do we?
Even if this is not a broad requirement for all of us, it does beg the question are we willing to give up anything, let alone everything and follow Jesus?
#5 Give to the Poor: I believe this is a broad sweeping command because there are so many supporting Scriptures commanded us (not asking) to take care of the poor, the widow and the orphan. As I’ve stated before on this blog, I believe some of the blame for our government’s sweeping intrusions and heavy tax burdens as to be placed on the body of Christ not being willing to follow Jesus to meet the needs of the poor.
#6 Arise: When Jesus passed by Levi the Tax Collector and told him to “Follow me”, Levi arose and followed. He didn’t sit and take notes. He didn’t re-read the Talmud or bring to memory a section or two. He didn’t do research or take opinion polls. He took action. In fact, it appears the action he took was to quit his lucrative job (#4), tell his tax collector friends about Jesus and bring Jesus to them for a meal (#3) and follow and keep on following.
Following Jesus isn’t just about our salvation experience; it is about our daily continuous following.
Jesus gave many more requirements/commands to those who wanted to follow Him. Not all actually did. And those who did were not always the most faithful followers, but they were willing to be taught by the Master Teacher. Are we?
What other “follow requirements” can you think of? How are you doing on your follow journey with Christ Jesus?
Photo By: Margaret Richards http://richardsandcompany.smugmug.com/