Thursday, January 31, 2019

Following Jesus Today

Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated a central truth about following Jesus nowadays “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” Christ and His teachings are inseparable. Therefore, Christ and those following Him cannot follow Him without His teachings fulfilled in their lives as well. What does it mean to follow Jesus in a post-Christian era? The apostle John reiterated the Scriptural principle needed as a Jesus-follower: “Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9b, ESV).

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Understanding the four primary focus of Jesus’ teachings from the Gospels provides anyone with the means of following Jesus proactively. First, faith in Jesus and His words is a must. Our faith in the goodness of God is confirmed after the crucifixion overcame all the powers of death. We know, therefore, that God will be with us always, even to the end of the age. Max Lucado stressed, “In our faith we follow in someone's steps. In our faith, we leave footprints to guide others. It's the principle of discipleship.”

Next, maintaining hope in Jesus’ promises anchors our faith. Because of the resurrection, we have confidence in the communion of saints — that those we love who have died live on joyfully in the nearer presence of God. We have hope that we too are headed for eternal life. One promise we can apply is hoping for His return: “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3a). This promise is a clear message Charles Spurgeon wanted every believer to remember: Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy down here today.

Another principle Jesus displayed is loving others as He did. The crucifixion is the ultimate expression of God’s self-giving love for us. Jesus lays down his life for strangers, for the sake of the world in general, giving up his own life in exchange for ours. Dieter F. Uchtdorf emphasized, “Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship.”

Lastly, applying peace in all circumstances of life proves our faith in His ability to protect us. Jesus illustrated the kind of peace we must wish for others especially our enemies at the cross when He uttered forgiveness for them (Luke 23:34). Soren Kierkegaard highlighted a key aspect of following Jesus:

Christ did not appoint professors, but followers. If Christianity ... is not reduplicated in the life of the person expounding it, then he does not expound Christianity, for Christianity is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men's lives.

The bottom line of following Jesus remembers a powerful message from Billy Graham, “When we come to Christ, we’re no longer the most important person in the world to us; Christ is.” In answering the question, “What following Jesus means today?” begins by following Jesus with a declaration of the mouth. Next, following Jesus with a decision of the mind. And lastly, following Jesus with a disposition of the heart focused on pleasing Jesus in all aspects of one’s faith life. Remembering these things keeps us aligned as followers of Jesus and as a witness to a fallen world.

Now more than ever, followers of Jesus must take the time in becoming serious towards applying Jesus’ teaching for our Christian journey today until He comes again for all of us.

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