Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Does It REALLY Mean To Follow Christ?

In the last year I have read two books that continue to plague my thoughts. They brought up questions that I cannot answer. They have made me rethink many things that I thought I already knew. The information found in these books continue to roll around in my brain....like a never ending blender, slowing down at times, speeding up at other times, but never, ever shutting off.

The first book was called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.
crazy love

I read this book a year aqo...it bothered me...in a good way. But I guess it didn't bother me enough. I didn't change anything because of the book. I just put the information in my mental blender.

And then a month ago I read another book. "Radical" by David Platt.
Radical

If possible, this book bothered me even more than "Crazy Love" did. But again, not enough I guess. I still haven't done anything about what I have read, just went and put in the mental blender.

But now I can't seem to turn the blender off. Questions keep coming to the surface. Questions that I cannot seem to find solid answers to. Maybe that is the problem. Maybe there are no solid answers....but that doesn't mean that there aren't any answers.

So, I thought I would put my questions up here. Maybe someone who reads this can help me with the answers....maybe not. Maybe we'll just have a group of us with more questions than answers....but if the questions won't go away, maybe we can search for the answers, and in the searching, while we might not find an answer, maybe we will BE the answer.

What does it really mean to follow Christ?

Matthew 4:19 (New International Version)
19"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."

How many REAL "fishers of men" do you know? Does following Jesus mean that you would be a fisher of men if you follow? If you're not fishing for men, are you really following?

Matthew 10:39 (New International Version)
39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

What does it mean to lose your life? How many people who go to church every week, how many pastors have truly lost their life? I'm not talking about physical death, but death to self.

Luke 14:26-27 (New International Version)
26"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple

What does this look like? I know what I've been TOLD it means...my love for Jesus in comparison to my family will make what I feel for my family look like hate....but is that REALLY what it means? If so, how does this look in our society? How is it lived out? And the taking up and carrying the cross thing....what does that look like? It's waaaaaaay more than just having to deal with the unpleasent things that come our way...a man in the days of Jesus who was carrying a cross was a dead man...on his way to the execution...so how is that life lived out here? What does it look like?

Matthew 13:44 (New International Version)
44"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."

And now for the last set of questions for the day....how is the above scripture lived out? If the kingdom is worth EVERYTHING...why do we spend more time entertaining ourselves than we do advancing the kingdom? Why do we spend more money on ourselves than we do advancing the kingdom?

Ok...that's enough for one post...but I have more questions...and maybe I'll post more later...but it all boils down to this:

What does it REALLY mean to follow Christ? Do you know? Do you know anyone who TRULY follows Jesus?

Stil rolling the questions around in my mind....
Pastor Dave

6 comments:

Valeri said...

All great questions, Dave! Unfortunately I don't have the answers and I'm not sure any of us do. For one thing, the answers will vary for each person, considering His calling on their lives. But I think the essence of your questions has to do with what we love most, our lives or our God. Then, what do we do with the answer to that question. I need to pray on this a bit and maybe I'll have more to respond at some other point. In the meanwhile, I'm interested in how others respond. Thank you for being such a faithful follower of our Lord and a faithful pastor of His sheep.

Mr. Big said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for following my blog. These are great questions and I too wish I knew how these verses were supposed to be lived today.

Dan said...

Pastor, I happened to come across your blog while looking for small church pastor blogs. I hesitate to even think I can answer any of your questions as you have more knowledge than I do by far, but I have learned a few things in my time, as you have. Our experience tells us that we follow Christ by following his commands and offering the grace he gave us to our fellow man (love God and your neighbor). It's not as simple as that, but maybe it is. I'm learning in my current situation that the young sailors around me need Christ, and they need it from someone who, even if marginally, is trying to follow Jesus. Flaws included, I think I might just be getting the point across. We shall see.

One thing that you brought up that nailed me was the fishers of men. I have settled into a sort of social Gospel complex lately and this verse kind of put an end to that. Thank you for answering one of my own questions, even though you didn't know I asked it.

I hope I didn't overstep any boundaries by writing these thoughts. I'm not a pastor, but I was very intrigued by your post. Hope to see your other questions soon!

Toby Strebe said...

Pastor Dave, those were some excellent questions. I'm not sure if I will be able to answer it to the fullest extent but let's see what I can accomplish with the Lord's help.

It is most commonly accepted by many Christians that accepting Christ into your life (i.e. getting saved) makes you a follower of Christ. If this is the case, why would Jesus tell us to follow Him, but in the subsequent verses, not tell us how? There are many verses throughout the New Testament which speak upon one’s salvation, but in context, not one speaks about following Christ. (Look up Rom 10:9-10; Acts 2:38, 41; John 3:3, 16-18; John 6:47; 1 John 5:11-13) Following Christ is more of a sanctification process, not an instantaneous conversion. Therefore, following Christ does not happen at the moment of salvation, but instead, the process should begin following your salvation.

There was a father taking his five-year old son on a walk. As they walked, the son tried to place his feet directly in the steps of his father’s. While crossing over a footbridge, the father suddenly stopped, picked up a small rock, and threw it in the water below. The five-year old boy also stopped, picked up a small rock, and threw it in the water below. As the father continued to walk, he began to whistle. Just then, the young boy began to whistle. Seeing a nice shady tree in the distance, the father strolled up to it and sat down. The boy also sat down. The father sighed; the boy sighed. The father stretched out; the boy stretched out.

It is clear that this young boy wants to be just like his father. He followed his father in every aspect of his life. This boy didn’t just merely follow behind his father but he emulated him. At the moment of salvation, you are adopted into God’s family (Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). The four Gospels record the account of Jesus’ life, ministry, and teachings. They enlighten us about Jesus’ actions, attitudes, and instructions. Now, we are fully equipped to become like this little boy (Matthew 18:3) and emulate Christ in every aspect of our life.

As you follow Christ and imitate His behavior, you will mature as a Christian. This is a lifelong process. Jesus states, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) “I will make” implies that it will take some time and is not instant. You see, when you follow directly in the footsteps of Christ, your life will be a splitting image of Christ through your words, actions, and attitudes. Jesus has a burden for the lost yet He would not compromise (Matthew 19:16-23). Modern Christianity has strayed away from Christ and compromised to the conformity of this world. This has created many backsliders, false conversions, and strange doctrines.

Just remember, if the One you follow had to suffer, then you should be following so closely that you will suffer. No one enjoys pain and suffering and I have had to go through much of that with my unit in Iraq but it is much better to suffer for doing what’s right then what’s wrong (1 Peter 3:17). Suffering for Christ’s name sake has also been eliminated by modern Christianity. This is why you don’t find too many fishers of men and people are reluctant to advance the kingdom. God forbid, they may suffer in the process. And then the dangers of apostasy lurk around the corner. Well, that’s a whole new topic for another discussion on another day.

Can you be saved and not be a follower of Christ? The answer is yes. But remember, Judgment Day is coming and each person will be held accountable for their own actions (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Some inductive Bible study by “That the World May Know Ministries” will educate one on the Jewish life and culture during Jesus’ time. This will also assist in your understanding on what it means to follow the Rabbi.

Timothy said...

With respect to Toby, I have to disagree with your use of the word make regarding What the Bible says about the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of Jesus in our hearts. I also disagree with the idea of salvation without following. The reason for this is the way that he is using follow is not just a physical application of the word. The way of following in regards to Jesus words, is rather that we are fully committed to him. The Scripture says to seek first God's kingdom and all these things shall be added unto you. Jesus said I am the way, and the Truth, and the Life, and noone come to the father except through me. It really comes down to ones theology. If you believe that you can be saved, and yet lose your salvation, then you are following a works based salvation, which is no salvation at all. Salvation is the free gift of God through Jesus Christ, it CANNOT be earned. It is the free gift of God through Jesus Christ. If we are to understand what salvation and following are, one must look at the theology of Jesus and secondarily that of the Apostle Paul. Paul in Romans 8 makes it excrutiatingly clear, he essentially says that there is nothing that can seperate us from the Love of God. What Paul presented is not a salvation of works, but a "Once saved, always saved" salvation. the Bible speaks of God giving us the desires of our heart, and also speak to the treasure of ones heart. the best way to understand this is in that when Jesus tells us about what we treasure in our heart, he is giving us a hint, he needs to be that treasure, our "one and only", to put into romantic terms. Jesus also speaks of our salvation through the terms of a marriage relationship. So to finish this long story, to be saved is to be married to Jesus. Finally, you cannot be saved and not follow, and you cannot follow and not be saved. Case in point, Judas Iscariot was a disciple/follower of Christ; however, the Scriptural context makes it clear the Judas was never saved. That is why Jesus mentioned that there will be people on the day of judgement, who will say, Lord, Lord; but his response to them is depart you lawless ones, I never knew you. the Hebrew word translated into english besically means the joining of two souls, i.e. marriage. alot of what i am discussing I got from the book not a fan by Kyle Idleman. I havent even finished the book yet. This response is not meant as criticism or rebuke, just friendly encouragement. God bless you all.

Pastor Dave said...

Timothy, sorry it took so long for me to approve your comment. I've been kind of out of commission when it comes to blogging, but plan to fire it up again soon. I appreciate your comments...and I agree with what you are saying, although we might disagree on some of the fine point details. I'm assuming you're referring to the Kyle Idleman book, "Not a Fan"...excellent book, and I took our church through a study of it. Hope you check back in on the blog soon as it gets going under a different name, but with the same internet address.

Pastor Dave