Following Christ requires that you daily submit every single area of your life (your mind or heart, your decisions and desires, your worries and cares, your past, present and future) to His Lordship (His Word, will and way) and justice (His penalty for sin), so that it will count for His Kingdom (Mat 16:21-24; Luk 14:25-35; Luk 9:32 and 62). In short, you choose to only be concerned with gaining Christ and His approval and nothing or nobody else (2Co 5:9-17; 2Ti 2:4; Phi 1:21; 1Co 4:1-4) . Anything less than that will not only fail to be effective in dealing w/sin, but manifest itself in a lack of boldness, interest, passion or loyalty to Christ in comparison to other things (Mat 6:21; Exo 20:3; *passion is what happens when you invest everything [when you give your whole life/everything you are/your present and future/all your hopes over to the Lordship of Christ]*).
With that in mind, consider further, these truths as to what Following Christ is not:
- It is not confusing.
If living in this world as a Christian is constantly confusing to you, then there is a good chance you are not (yet) (or are no longer) following Christ the way He calls you to (total surrender to His Lordship and justice) (e.g. confusion in re: to men leading their wives, wives submitting to their husbands, parents raising their children, people submitting to their bosses or pastors!).
- It is not going to make temptation/trials go away.
Following Christ will alleviate those temptations/trials associated w/running after sin and the world, but we will continue to face other temptations/trials – including new ones (e.g. persecution associated w/being a Christian – 2T 3:12; discipline for/bc of our sin – 1Pe 4:12-18 w/Lam 3:39). Our faithfulness thru such trials/temptations are the test proving our worthiness/fitness for heaven (1Pe 4:1-2; Act 5:41; Rev 3:4).
- It is not separate from loyalty to the church.
There is no such thing as a person who follows Christ yet remains disloyal to His church (their covenant brothers and sisters) – especially when things get tough (or trials come or they fall into sin) (Pro 17:17 w/24:10; Col 3:13-14 – “above all”; 1Jo 3:10 = loyalty to the church is how we know we are the children of God/followers of Christ – Joh 13:34-35).
- It is not rehab or gradual.
Jesus demands that we be immediately be “all in”. Which means when it comes to our obedience and turning from sin, there is no stalling, stewing and brewing or dragging our feet. If we do approach following Christ that way – as though it were some form of rehabilitation that takes time – or a process that is gradual where we work up to such commitment or faithfulness, then we have grossly misunderstood His demands and will be identified as false followers/Christians on J-DAY.
(Mat 4:20-22- “immediately”; Luk 9:57-62 = The problem with the last two persons encountered by Jesus is the same. Both viewed following Him – or giving their lives fully to Him, as something they could put off until others things were pursued/taken care of. Jesus however, makes it clear that such a view was unacceptable/unsaving. Following Christ [which once more requires full commitment] is immediate – not gradual or something we do little by little/more and more over time. It is not again, rehab. This includes our repentance; Psa 119:57- 60 = Part of what it means to have the Lord as our portion [i.e. to fully follow Christ] is we immediately: 1) “turn” from sin to His “testimonies”, 2) “keep” in obedience His “commandments”; Again – Luk 14:33; In re: to stewing and brewing: Gal 4:16 w/Luk 10:16).
- It is not a hamster on a wheel.
Some people look at the Christian life as not much different than a hamster on a wheel: they are putting all this effort into making sure they are obedient to Christ and saying “no” to the sinful temptations and things of this world but their life (as a result) is going nowhere. Instead, they are missing out on all the fun and exciting stuff this world has to offer. This however is not the view of Jesus, John or Paul. They saw all such effort (i.e. they saw following Christ) as adding up to something eternally better.
(Mat 6:19-20; Joh 5:28-29; 1Jo 3:21-22; 2Jo 1:8; Phi 3:14; 1Co 9:23-27; 2Co 5:10; 2Ti 4:7-8)
- It is not the path most of those who claim to follow Christ will take or continue on.
In our lifetime we will encounter many people whose path to following Christ is not the one He defines –or b/c of what He demands, will eventually leave the path (and no longer follow Him). We need to accept that as reality (b/c that is what Jesus tells us will happen). What we also need to accept, is that many (if not all of those people) will be convinced they are still going to heaven (following Christ) – though (once more) that is not the case. What they are doing is no longer in line/agreement w/the testimony of Scripture (or Jesus). Hence the reason when people leave this church, they refuse to meet w/me (or the church) to prove from God’s Word that what they are doing is acceptable or still following Christ (that never has that been the case). I (and everyone else) immediately become “persona non grata”. They don’t meet b/c they have decided they no longer want to follow Jesus according to His terms (they want the lifestyle or things He says that can’t have or be)—AND they (therefore) also know their decision to pursue such things won’t stand up to the scrutiny of God’s church and Word. Again, this is the sad reality we must understand. Following Christ is not something that will be true for everyone who claims –or continue to be true for all those who genuinely did (at one time). Many will leave the path.
(Luk 13:22-24; Mat 13:18-23, 25:14-15, 19-25, 26-30; Though there are many different sinful reasons people go apostate [stop following Christ], in my experience they all share one thing in common: they are “wise in their own eyes”; Pro 26:12).
CLOSING CONTEMPLATION = NOW is the time to make things right in your walk w/Christ. If what has been said over the past weeks has revealed areas that need to be shored up then do it the way God’s Word prescribes – REPENT (confess it, change/turn from those former behaviors and conform to what Jesus requires as the new pattern of your life).