Jesus called people with two simple words: “Follow me.” He also offered this amazing invitation to anyone who was struggling with the overwhelming demands of life: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message) Those words were life changing to those who accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow and learn from him. They learned to listen to God, to live by faith, and to love everyone with a patient and graceful love. They learned to live like Jesus!
Jesus was clearly calling people, not to a system of belief that was disconnected from daily life, but to an ongoing relationship with himself where he would bring growth and change to their lives. Jesus once said, “A student is not above their teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” (Luke 6:40) Christianity is a way of living with Jesus as our teacher and friend, as we practice conforming our lives to his. Jesus warned us of the horrible results of just hearing his words without putting them into practice – we become a house built on the sand, without a foundation and in danger in the storms of life. But for those who not only hear the words of Jesus, but make the daily decision to put them into action, we are promised that they will become a strong foundation upon which to build our lives and we will then weather the storms successfully!
The greatest advertisement for Christianity is a person who not only loves Jesus, but who practices what Jesus taught. The worst advertisement for Christianity is the person who claims to love Jesus but does not live in obedience to his teachings. The truth of Christianity is not changed in any way by whether you or I live in obedience to the teachings of Jesus; however, the attractiveness of Christianity depends on little else!
In the early days of Christianity, the apostle Paul wrote, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles… (1 Corinthians 1:22-23). That pretty much covers everyone – either a stumbling block or foolishness! Yet before long the world was filled with disciples of Jesus Christ. How did that happen? Paul continues: “…but to those who God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:24-25) The message of Jesus Christ is never disembodied – it is always contained in a life that demonstrates love and obedience to Christ. Your life of loving obedience may, at first, look like foolishness or weakness, but in time it will become incredibly attractive! Keep walking in the Way and following Jesus…
- Kenny Payne