…In Following Jesus 2
by Sade Akanni
BORN AGAIN TO LIVE FOR JESUS
“For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge that, if one died for all, then were all dead; And that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5: 14, 15, 17)
Since the wages of sin is death (Rom6: 23) Jesus came and suffered death on your behalf so that you will not need to pay the penalty for your sins by yourself. Having died on your behalf, it means you were the one that died, “…if one died for all, then were all dead …” For you as a child of God, you were already dead, says the scriptures. As soon as you encountered Christ in salvation, it brought a termination to the life you have lived so far, whether good or bad, just as death naturally terminates a man’s life no matter what he has experienced before. You were dead … not that you are going to die. You need God to open your eyes to see the implication of this so that your struggles with God over your Christian life will end and following Jesus will not be difficult. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. Old things about your life, whether good or bad, have passed away. .. Not just the bad things but even the seemingly good things have passed away, not that they are passing away little by little. His death on the cross of Calvary has ended your old life. The day you surrendered your life to Christ marks the beginning of a new life. The life inside you now is a new creation entirely with a completely different and new nature – the nature of God. Do you understand? Your old habits, old way, old nature, sicknesses etc. have passed away. Behold… Look, see … all things have become new. To walk in your old way of life- the way you used to do things, to experience your old experiences (good or bad) only indicates lack of understanding of what happened to you at the new birth. God’s purpose for saving you is
“…that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life” (Rom 6:4)
There is a new way of life already set before you; a new path for your feet to tread upon, a new set of experiences prepared for you, new friends, new fathers, new mothers, new norms and values. It is a new life entirely. It is a life of following Jesus. No wonder then that God said in 2Cor 5: 15
“And that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto him who died for them and rose again”
The new life in you was created for a purpose; it was created to be lived for Jesus who died for. you. You were not born anew to live for yourself or to fulfil your old ambition but to serve the purpose of Christ who died for you and rose again. Whatever your reason for living, whatever plans and programs you have made for your life before you met Christ has passed away. Yours is to learn this new life and seek to understand and fulfil God’s purpose for saving you. Many make a mistake when they insist on their old way of life. Your decisions, your career, your future, your all must be surrendered to Jesus. Not that He will spoil your life; No! In fact, He will make the best out of it for your good. He will choose the best career for you and direct you as you travel on your life journey, when you choose to follow Him.
Again you must understand that God is not just asking in vain that you should quit living for yourself and live for Jesus. He is not trying to cheat you. He does not take anything from where He has not deposited something. He is not asking you to live for Jesus when He has not paid any price. Looking closely at that Scripture, you will discover that a price has been paid over your life. “And that he died for all, mat they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto him who died for them and rose again” He died for you … and rose again. That was the price. He paid your debt. It was His legitimate right to demand your loyalty He delivered you from the dominion, the territory, the local government of darkness, and translated you into the kingdom of His dear Son for this same purpose. And you know that when you leave one local government to live in another one, the rules of the former local government is no longer binding on you. Demons stop troubling you, your business is doing fine, your family is peaceful, sickness is far away from you, you have much rest from sin, etc. all for this same purpose – for you to be able to live for Jesus who died and rose again for you. It is for you to live never at any point to satisfy “self” or fulfil your self-desires and purposes, but for the purpose of God to be achieved in your life. To do otherwise is to turn away from God’s purpose, to do what is outside His will and to break God’s hedge around your life. And you know that whosoever breaks an hedge, serpent shall bite him (Eccl. 10:8) No wonder serpent, (the devil) is biting many Christians today. Beware and fear God!
“For ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1Cor 6:20)
NO EXTRA LUGGAGE
Following Jesus is a faith venture. It cannot be successfully done by sight or by the energy and wisdom of the flesh. For
“… small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:14)
When something is big enough for the eyes to see, many people will see it without any need for it to be introduced to them. But we are told that the gate unto life, the entrance unto the things that will lead you into abundant and eternal life is so small and the road so narrow that only a few find it! Even the road, the way unto abundant life, the way unto life eternal is so narrow that it takes the grace of God to find it. You can imagine how much load you can carry to travel on such a road so narrow.
To follow Jesus is to follow a narrow, unfamiliar, unpopular road. Those who find it must be willing to travel light and lonely. There is the story of a man in the Bible (Mk.10: 17-27) who desired to enter into life. He was not only a rich man but also a ruler. He ran to Jesus and asked “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”. From there, a discussion started. The only thing in his life that looked like an extra luggage which will hinder him from entering into life was pointed out. It was not just that he was rich, but that he was clinging to his riches; he trusted in his riches (Mk 10:23- 24). He would have preferred to be allowed to follow Jesus and still cling to and trust in his riches. He did not want to do without Jesus, neither was he prepared to part way with his riches. He did not know that the way is so narrow that no extra luggage can pass through. You cannot hold Jesus with one hand and something else with the other hand on that road. You either drop your luggage and go alone with Jesus, trusting Him to care for you, or you drop Jesus and be dropped from the kingdom of God. The way of Jesus is so narrow that it is compared with the eye of a needle. And it is so rigid like the eye of a needle that it cannot be manipulated and adjusted. Jesus says that it is easier for a camel, despite the ruggedness of its shape, to pass through the eye of a needle than for a man who clings to what he possesses to enter into the kingdom of God.
And you know how difficult and even impossible that is. Do you still want to follow Jesus? What are your possessions? Do you have physical riches? The condition is that you must release it from your heart and hands. You may not be rich in physical materials but in academic knowledge. Yours may be that you are rich in natural talents. Or could it be that you are rich in the traditions of your fathers? You know and possess these traditions so much that you defend it and prefer to follow them and not the narrow way of the cross. Or are you rich in men? – having influential people around you with great connections? What are your riches? Or are you rich in achievements, rich in children so much that you cling unto them? If you desire to follow Jesus, you must not only be willing to let these things go but you must actually release your hands from (clinging unto) them and put your trust in the Lord. The Lord is not wicked. He said whosoever saves his life shall lose it, but whosoever loses his life for His sake shall find it.
“Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, brethren, or sisters or father, or mother, or wife, or children or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundred fold now in this time houses … with persecutions and in the world to come, eternal life” (Mk. 10:29)
NO LOOKING BACK
“And it came to pass that, as they went on the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee wherever thou goest: And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, permit me first to go and bury my lather. Jesus said unto him, let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, who are at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking hack, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Lk.9:57-62
Jesus and his disciples were going on the way one day and a man met them, expressing his desire to follow Jesus wherever he goes. Unfortunately, that man just met them on the way, not knowing where they were coming from nor where they were going. Yet he made a rash uninformed decision not knowing that Jesus did not have a permanent place of abode here on earth. Jesus was willing to sleep wherever God led him to and God provided for him, houses in which to stay. He lived as a pilgrim here on earth and so did his disciples.
You that want to follow Jesus but then attach so much importance unto where to stay, are you willing? Are you really ready for Jesus’ kind of lifestyle? Is lack of comfort and social amenities not driving you away from the place of God’s posting for your life? Remember! “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.”
Another matter that makes people stumble in following Jesus is tradition; societal norms; cares and affairs of this life. In that same scripture Jesus told another man to follow him. In Matt. 4:19, the same thing was said to Peter and Andrew and they left their nets and boats immediately and followed Jesus. But this particular man ·had a problem. He had too much attachment to the tradition of his fathers and the standards of this world. He was entangled therein so much that it became more important to him that time than to follow Jesus. He was not willing to let Jesus go but he was also not willing to let go of that tradition either. As soon as you rate anything more important in your heart as to override your loyalty to Jesus, you will be disqualified. Some desire to follow Jesus but they seek for permission to get married first. They seriously desire to serve God but they would like to work and build a house or buy a car first; some seek for permission to reach the top of the educational ladder first, or to work until they reach a pensionable level first. Whatever you seek to do first as a priority before you can consider following Jesus anywhere He leads is the thing that will disqualify you. No one can serve two masters. Our God is a jealous God. He does not tolerate rivals. He prefers to drop you for that your other ‘master’. If you desire to follow Jesus and to serve Him, then it must be Him alone, and it must be with immediate uncompromising obedience. God’s verdict is “Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God”
Yet another man willingly said “Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, who are at home at my house.” Anything that you feel like doing first before answering the call to follow Jesus is a stumbling block; and the attitude to put the things of the kingdom as secondary is the same attitude which may eventually disqualify you. It amounts to looking back. Remember Lot’s wife! Jesus said to that man “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” May God help us in Jesus’ Name.
In conclusion, God commands that every one that desires to partake of the kingdom of God should follow Jesus. He is the one whom God has lifted up as an example for us to follow in His steps. This is because God insists that each of His children must be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ so that He will not be the only Son of God but the first born among many brethren. He desires that our lives should be such that Jesus will not be ashamed to call us brethren.
Following Jesus has a starting point just as every journey does. The new birth marks the beginning of an eternal walk with the Lord. It involves a consistent looking at and unto Jesus, studying his lifestyle and following in His footsteps all through the journey, having allowed old things to pass away. There is no room for carry over. It is a faith venture and no extra luggage is allowed because the gate is small and the way is narrow. No man is allowed to look back on this journey or else you will be declared unfit.
O traveller on the heavenly way, how do you fare? Are you fit? Are you faithful? Are you fulfilling God’s purpose for asking you to follow Jesus? Behold: The end of all things is near!