The A, B, Cs of Loving One Another, “F”

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/

 

Any Patriots in Your Story?

Welcome to the Thursday edition of One Another Living Blog Circuit.

Turn Write Series.

In this series we will share writing tips and resources for writers both fiction and non-fiction, published and yet to be published.

Today we continue our July 4th week celebration with a discussion on patriots and their influence in our stories.

At first glance this topic may only seem appropriate for those who write about wars and revolutions. But I’m thinking every good novel needs at least one patriot. Before you write me off, maybe literally, let’s look at the definition of patriot and what one might look like in Christian fiction.

According to Dictionary.com a patriot is:

1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
Using this definition I am indeed a patriot to the United States of America. I love America. I support America and with more than just my taxes. I defend my country; not with a gun on a Marine front line, but with my pen. I do these things with great devotion. So, if I were a character in a novel part of my point of view would be my patriotism.
I would venture to say there are more characters in our stories that have patriotic tendencies than we even realize. For instance in C. S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” the children were all patriots to their native England. In fact, Peter was frustrated  with returning to the real world because he wasn’t old enough to join in the fight against the Germans and show his patriotism as he did in Narnia. Of course, he wasn’t at first a patriot or loyal to Narnia. Lucy was the first to align herself and be devoted to Narnia and more importantly to Aslan.
This is in fact a beautiful picture of born again believers (One Anothers) in real life and in our stories. I am a patriot of the United States, but far more important is my allegiance to the King of Kings. Aren’t we told in the Bible to fight the good fight, that we are at war with the Devil and that we should put on the whole armor of God.
In Christian fiction most of our protagonists either start out as followers of Jesus or they come to faith somewhere in the story. This is true whether it is overtly described in genres such as Christian Romance and Biblical Fiction or if it is furtively styled in works like Lewis’ “Chronicles”; Christian Speculative Fiction. In either case, if our characters are Christians then they have the foundation to be patriots; not of this world or your imagined world, but of Jesus and our “home” with Him.
If my premise is correct, then these characters should be developed in their love for Christ, in their support of His cause, in defense of His Gospel and in devotion of His grace and mercy. They are, indeed, patriots of God’s Kingdom.
The second definition of patriot is equally compelling to our novel characters.
2. a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.
What were the Daughters of Eve and Sons of Adam defending against in Narnia? Answer: The evil, interfering regime of the White Witch who ruled with an icy grip and denounced individual rights. Any of your  characters having similar struggles in your story? I know mine are. And I better be pulling my reader into their patriotic viewpoint which will no doubt propel them into crisis’ of mind and heart.
Patriotism is a good thing! Not only in the United States of America, but also in our worlds of fiction and fantasy.

Welcome to Our Blog Circuit

We are pleased to unveil the One Another Living Blog Circuit!

Monday: We will post a One Another Living Challenge. The challenge may be simple like, “Give a fellow one another a good hug.” Or the challenge may be a little more out of our comfort zone like, “Ask God to bring a new one another into your life this week.” We hope you will share with us in the comments the results, rejoicing or trials you may have had during the week.

This week we celebrate July 4th week and our Independence Day!

In honor of the men and women serving in our military our One Another Living Challenge this week is to thank at least one person from any branch of the military for their service to our country. This can be an active duty personnel or reservist or retired individual.

You can thank a loved one, a personal friend, a co-worker, or soldier, airman, sailor or Marine sitting next to you on the plane or walking down the street.

You can call, text, email, Twitter or Facebook. You can write a letter or send a card. You can take them out to lunch or say thanks over coffee.

But, whatever you do, do not let this week go by without thanking someone you know or will meet from the greatest military force on earth.

I want to personally thank my son, a Second Lt. in the Marine Corps, for his service and sacrifice to his country, his family and his God. My prayer for my son and all the One Anothers who serve in our military can be summed up in the song, “Thou, O Lord.”

Please enjoy this presentation by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Click Here

God Bless all our military personnel and God Bless America!