Follow Jesus first
Have you ever thought about or experienced what it means to run with perseverance? I was in track all throughout junior and senior high and college, and believe it or not, running was not my favorite activity. I was more of a weights person. But we had to run to start practice, to get warmed up, so I joined in.
We had another weight person who wasn’t fond of running either, but boy did she have perseverance! She always seemed to be late to the start of practice, but she was faithful to our warm-up and put the rest of us to shame.
You see, we could be halfway to three-quarters of the way around the track and in six to seven quick steps she would catch up to us. I’m not exaggerating… she was 6’8’’ with a stride to match…it always left us amazed at her!
Chapter 12 of Hebrews begins with, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you do not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Faith, hope and love. That’s what this life is all about. Moving forward even though we can’t see into the future, following the God of love on this great adventure of life; trusting, loving, persevering.
Shortly after moving to Capernaum, Jesus is walking beside the lake one afternoon when He sees men in a rowboat waiting for unsuspecting fish. What happens next is amazing! Jesus offers them a job with no pay and they accept! They leave their nets and follow Jesus into the unknown.
Jesus’ invitation and their response is nothing short of a miracle. Four fishermen drop what they are doing and head off with Jesus. They don’t know what is coming next, but they do know what happened to John the Baptist.
You see – that’s how God works. Someone once said, “God doesn’t look at your ability, God looks for your availability.” And if you’re “available” God can and will do great things through you.
The purpose of this is to get you to realize that your purpose (as a Christian) is not fulfilled by going to church and filling a pew. You can only fulfill God’s goal for your life, when you begin to serve Jesus.
It’s been said that their following Jesus is the beginning of the confession of faith–they are putting aside their old lives in the confidence that, in the way of Jesus, they will find God’s grace; God’s meaning for their lives.
God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. We see the initial decision to follow Jesus has more to do with hope and a willingness to serve than it does with knowing certain “facts” about Jesus.
• These guys didn’t know anything about the virgin birth.
• They weren’t asked to recite a creed or answer any theological questions.
• They were just asked to follow in faith and hope.
Learning about God would come with the adventure of following Jesus.
In making new disciples of Jesus Christ, the Church has often followed a certain model of “know, grow, go.” That means, learn the doctrines of the church and the faith first, grow in your knowledge and faith, then go out and follow Jesus. This model in Matthew Chapter 4 seems to be quite a bit different. It’s reversed. It’s “go (or follow), grow and know.”
Again, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”
As Paul puts it in Romans Chapter 5, “hope does not disappoint us.” Life will disappoint us. Materialism will disappoint us. Pleasure will disappoint us. The hope that comes through faith in Jesus Christ does not disappoint. If we live by it, we will end up in places we never imagined being, doing things we never imagined doing, and sharing life, fellowship, service and worship with other people, we would have never imagined ourselves knowing.
Now, it’s not easy and it’s not convenient to follow Jesus. But it is more than worth it! If anything gets in the way of our call to follow Jesus, we are to leave it behind.
Jesus’ claim on our lives is much more important than anything else under the sun. It’s been said that a danger in the church today is the tendency for us to define our mission and then invite Jesus to tag along with us.” But that’s not the way it works. Our mission has to do with Jesus’ call on our life and our response–our willingness to follow Him.
As we follow Jesus, we learn to become more and more like Jesus. We find our lives changing, our priorities changing, we come to know a love we never knew existed.