Follower

Recently I've heard (and read) a lot of talk from fellow Christians on several tough and potentially divisive issues. There has been much discussion on what Christians should do in certain situations where a moral issue has taken center stage in the public arena and even more opinions of what Jesus Himself would or wouldn't do. A lot of people are convinced that Jesus was all about nothing but love and being nonjudgmental. Would He even vote if given the chance?

Without rehashing any of the issues, I want to examine what Scripture tells us not about what Jesus would do (we already have the Bible as testimony to what He has done) but mainly about who Jesus is and who were are called to be as His followers.

While we know about Jesus is not a boastful man, He does let us know in Scripture just who He is.
Jesus told them, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)
Again the high priest questioned Him, "Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus, "and all of you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven." (Mark 14:61-62)
Jesus told the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." But some of the scribes were sitting there, thinking to themselves: "Why does He speak like this? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"..."But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins," He told the paralytic, "I tell  you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go home." (Mark 2:5-7, 11)
These are just a few verses where Jesus gives to us just a glimpse of His glory and power. Make no mistake, Jesus claims to be not just divine but God Himself. And as such, He possesses all the authority and majesty that is due Him. And Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of the world who redeemed us from sin and death on the cross. And noticed what Jesus says in that first verse: He is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is truth. He is everything. We cannot know truth or God or purpose apart from Him. Jesus is the total package.

That being said, Jesus calls us to be His disciples, His followers. And perhaps no other verse spells out just how significant, amazing, and difficult that call is than Luke 9:23.
Then He said to them all, "If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
If. That's a pretty big word when it comes to discipleship. How you follow after Jesus all hinges on your answer to the first question of, "Will you?"

He must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Let's not mince words here. This is not easy. Denying self goes so against what our flesh is begging for us to do on a constant basis. Taking up your cross asks the question, "Would you lay down your life for Jesus even if it meant giving up that life?" And then we get to "follow me". When Jesus called men and women to follow after Him, He was not passively sending an invitation. He was expressing a commitment for life, and those who heard His voice knew what they were getting themselves into. Matthew chose to drop everything - all his riches and position - to follow Jesus without looking back (Matthew 9:9). There were also many who were not willing to count the cost or give up their lives to follow after Him (Luke 18:18-23: John 6:66). Anyone can be presented in public as a new believer, but the real question is, "Are you a follower?"

 If you have received the forgiveness of sins and redemption that Jesus made possible on the cross and have surrendered you life and will to Him, then you are His. You are a follower of Christ, not just a name on a role book or a check in the box of a survey. And if you follow Christ, you must strive to be as Christ is. Passionate for truth even if it is unpopular or kills you. Living a redeemed life with a redemptive purpose. Pointing others to the Father in your words and deeds. Being all about the gospel, for the hope of Christ is all that we have.

If you follow Christ then you love what He loves and hate what He hates. Jesus loves the Father and His creation and is zealous to see mankind's broken relationship with God restored through Himself. And Jesus hates sin, so much so that He willingly died for our sins on the cross. He in no way excused a sinful lifestyle because He didn't want to offend anyone or infringe on their "rights". What rights do we have but what have been given us by God? Therefore, follow Christ in such a way that the issues of this world become perfectly clear in light of the clarity and truth of the His beautiful gospel.

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