No one does it as well as the Master. Not even close. But we can learn from Jesus as we seek to become effective disciple makers. And if we model His approach and His life, others will be brought into God's kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Isn't it fascinating in the New Testament how our Lord reached out to individuals and invited them to take "the next step" on their spiritual journey? Everyone is at a different point, but everyone can take "the next step" by God's grace. For unbelievers, it will be the initial step of trusting Christ for salvation. And for believers, there are many steps along the path of discipleship. In fact, a person cannot follow Christ without taking frequent "steps" to keep up with Him. Jesus is on the move, and you are either following Him, or remaining behind.
When Jesus preached to the crowds, He said things like, "Repent and believe the good news." (Mark 1:15) And Christ's message concerning His kingdom was often conveyed through parables. But when He was calling individuals to become disciples, the Lord tended to simply say, "Follow me." (Mark 1:17)
Two approaches. Two different ways of presenting the message. Or was it really just one approach, with different semantics and a different emphasis depending on whether it was being addressed to an individual, or a group?
No one can touch the brilliance of Jesus Christ. He is fully God and fully man. God not only knows everything, but He approaches every situation absolutely perfectly. There is never the slightest flaw in His decisions, His approach, or His dealings with man.
We all know how important it is to back up our initial decision about something with action. If we don't act on it, our "decision" might quickly drift away into the recesses of our mind and our memory. But if we act on it, we get the ball rolling. We start heading in the direction that our decision indicated we were going to move. Jesus understood this dynamic better than anyone.
By calling individuals to come and follow Him, Jesus addressed man's will. Men and women couldn't remain "on the fence," especially since Jesus was "on the move." Recruits could either immediately begin the journey, or remain behind in doubt, unbelief and fear.
Jesus would in essence call people to do something they were incapable of doing. After all, who has the power and the ability to start following Jesus? And yet, when the call goes out, the Holy Spirit is present to enable the hearer to respond in faith, focus, and with a "follower mentality." Some people follow Jesus, while others follow their misgivings in the opposite direction. One road leads to heaven, while the other leaves you lost in a spiritual jungle of uncertainty, insecurity and wishful thinking.
Following Jesus comes after believing in Jesus. Those who believe in Christ do indeed follow Him. There is no such thing in the Bible as a believer who doesn't follow Christ. You will of course find believers in Scripture who have become entangled in sin, but you also find God working in those situations to correct the problem and lead the believer to repent of those errors. Jesus never calls a person to "only believe," but not obey. The apostle Paul wrote about "the obedience that comes from faith." (Romans 1:5) Once you believe in Jesus as you Savior, you immediately begin to obey Him.
The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of holy living. He lives inside every believer, as does Jesus Himself. This is why Christians love God and seek to do His will. It's not due to our goodness, but rather, it is due to the goodness of the Savior. So when Jesus calls someone to follow Him, He is calling a person to receive a river of living water in their soul. (see John 7:38) Only the Master could have designed such a beautiful system. Only the Lord could have developed it so that He gets the glory not only for our salvation, but also for our life of discipleship.
Man is extremely proud by nature. And even with all the biblical material to the contrary, believers are still susceptible to falling for the lie that we produce the good fruit which grows in our Christian life. Why are we so determined to get some credit for ourselves? In reality, God is the author of our salvation, and He is also the author of our Christian living. If we will just stay out of the way, good things will be produced in our life as a result of Christ living in us.
This life of discipleship will only flourish when we humbly follow the One who is always out there leading the way. His brilliance and beauty is second to none. It is therefore tragic when people live life following their own desires, rather than flowing in the supernatural river which only God can give a person. Have you started to experience that new life? You can begin today.
Continue reading Christian material. And most of all, read the Bible. That is God's love letter to His children. If you want to know God's heart and His interests, read what He sent to His family. And if you approach Scripture with an open mind, you may begin to sense the Savior calling you through the pointed words, "Follow me." Wherever you find yourself today on your personal journey, Jesus is able to save all who humble themselves at the foot of His cross.
Will you be the next one among thousands in the world today who come to place their trust in Christ for salvation? And will you go with Him now as He leads you to a new life and a new destiny? He will always be the brilliant One. But will you be wise enough to see Him in all of His glory and majesty?
Unless you get up and go with Him when He calls you, you will never know Him. That's just the way God designed it, forever brilliant, and forever true.
Will you follow Jesus Christ today?