Monday, July 30, 2012

BELIEVING ENOUGH TO FOLLOW


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Today I want to show you why being a believer is not enough. On the road to becoming a disciple and then making disciples, there is another level of growth and maturity. Let's rehearse the levels up to this point:
1. People who are not followers of Jesus-family, friends, acquaintances. 2. People who are interested-the seekers after more about Jesus. 3. People who are interested enough to become a believer.

Now, today we come to the final level of progression in order to be ready and able to respond to Jesus' command to "make disciples of all nations." 4. People who believe enough to follow Jesus.

Most of my life I have bought into the importance of being a believer or more specifically, a believer in Jesus. In the past few years as I have been focused on the teachings and principles of Jesus, I have come to realize that being a "believer" is probably not the best way to identify yourself with Jesus. If you perform a quick overview of the five Gospels (Matthew-Mark-Luke-John-Acts), you will discover that with few exceptions John is the only one who uses the term "believe" extensively.

Demons are said to be believers. The false teachers Jesus mentions are believers. Jesus refers to people who act like believers, but that's not good enough. Look at what Jesus says: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Here was a group of people who spoke in the name of Jesus, cast out demons in the name of Jesus and performed many miracles in His name, yet Jesus didn't know them. He had no personal relationship with them.

In addition to demons and false teachers, many of you who are reading or listening to this daily see yourselves as believers, too. So, what's the difference? There must be more to it than just being a believer!

Jesus clarifies this. Jesus makes it clear that the only ones who will enter the Kingdom of heaven are those who do the will of the Father. And what does Jesus mean by this? In the next paragraph He illustrates what this means:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

Those who do the will of the Father are those who hear the words of Jesus and practice them! That's more than just being a "believer". Don't get caught up in the clich├ęs and sound bites of religiosity. Pray for ears to hear and eyes to see, then listen to what Jesus says and do it. Don't miss this! You must believe, but you must believe enough to follow Jesus and His teachings! Whether you are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Christian or agnostic, follow Jesus and enjoy the results!

Believe enough to follow Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus is the best identification. This ID is straight from Jesus and the writers of the Gospels. All of them use this term. It's possible to be a believer without being a follower of Jesus.

So, what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? There are many ways to describe this. Here are three habits that we have found most helpful to teach how to follow Jesus. FIRST-WALKING WITH JESUS. Walking with Jesus means you are devoted to Jesus in four ways:
1. Devoted to copy Jesus-to walk, talk, love and think like Jesus. The question to check this is "What Did Jesus Do?" (WDJD?). Follow Him.

2. Devoted to consult with Jesus regarding your personal, family and professional decisions. The question to check this is "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD?). Follow what Jesus would do in this situation.

3. Devoted to converse with Jesus throughout your day. Prayer is simply a conversation within your relationship with Jesus. The question to check this is "What Is Jesus Saying?" (WIJS?).

4. Devoted to community like Jesus-disciplining yourself to do life with a few others. The question to check this is "What Is Jesus Doing?" (WIJD?).

SECOND-WALKING WITH OTHERS WHO WALK WITH JESUS. The early disciples modeled this by spending time together, studying the teachings of Jesus, eating, praying and fellowshipping with one another. Walking with others is a commitment to be in community with a few, in conversation with Jesus with that few and in copy-mode to stimulate one another to be like Jesus.

THIRD-WAITING ON JESUS TO LEAD OUT WITH OPPORTUNITIES AND ORDERS. This may be the toughest, but is made much easier by walking together with a few others.