Luke 9:23 Then He (Jesus) said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
If we are a follower of Jesus, we must understand that we are following Jesus somewhere. It is not simply a matter of praying the “sinners prayer” and then, well, nothing. In fact I can find no passage of scripture that talks about following Jesus that mentions standing still. Even in our Bible Challenge readings (from Acts 23 today), we find those who follow after Jesus on the move. There’s Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch, Peter with Cornelius and Paul on the move from Jerusalem to Caesarea. Idleness was not in their repertoire as follower of Jesus, and it should not be in ours. Being a follower of Jesus means following Jesus somewhere, and that somewhere, in the broadest of terms, is on mission.
We each have a mission given to us by Jesus when we become his follower, his mission to be precise: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) Our mission is to seek out those who are lost in sin and help them be found. That mission does not have cultural, geographical, spacial, temporal, political (or any other “al” you can thing of) boundaries. It is the mission for all Christians regardless of age, gender, race, culture, economic class or education level. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, whenever you are doing it, that is your mission.
One other thought before we get to the notes from Sunday’s sermon: John 12:26 reads “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” This is Jesus’ mission. We make a very critical mistake if we try to make it our mission. It is always Jesus’ mission. Why is this distinction important? Because if we are going to engage and participate in this mission, we have to be following Jesus’ lead. We have to be where Jesus is, just like he says in this verse from John 12. If we think that we can conveniently fit this mission into our own plans, lives, goals, then we are missing the point. It is Jesus’ mission. It has to be done with Jesus’ direction, done Jesus’ way, with Jesus’ provision. Our lives, goals, plans should center around the mission, not the other way around.
I know, I’m making this really complicated. I’m making this whole Christian thing really hard and challenging…but I’m not actually. I’m just passing on what Jesus said. We have to be conscious of the fact that Jesus defines the relationship we are to have with him. I’m just as challenged as you are…perhaps more. My whole life is supposed to be about this mission…and sometimes I wonder how much I’ve fooled myself into thinking that some of my “pastoral” duties are mission oriented when in fact they are not. This is a troubling thought for me, and one that requires a deep look at my motives, the way I spend my time and my gifts, and the very nature of what it means to be a pastor.
It is my deepest hope and prayer that this conversation we are having about being a follower is making you pause and re-evaluate your relationship with Jesus and consider where you are follower (celebrate those spots) and where you are merely an enthusiastic admirer (a fan…work on those spots, it’s worth it, I promise).
Principles of following (so far):
1) Jesus is the only one worth following. 2) Following is essential to believing, just as believing is essential to following. 3) following means being a doulos (slave) to Jesus. 4) following means expecting Jesus to interfere with your life. 5) A follower knows Jesus intimately. 6) A follower follows Jesus in a community of other followers.
Sermon Big Idea:
A fan will not say no to themselves; a follower will join with Jesus on mission.
- For too long, Christians have considered “mission” as something someone else did, somewhere else.
- So too has evangelism been left to the “professionals” like Billy Graham and pastors.
- the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) is the responsibility of all Christians.
- John 20:30-31 tells us that the point of the written Gospels was to tell the story of Jesus so that we may believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
- Philippians 1:3-5 tells us that the job of the church is to partner in the gospel.
- Who is the church? US. Christians. It is our job to share the gospel, to tell the story of Jesus so that people will believe in Jesus.
- John Wesley: “You have one business on earth – to save souls.”
- How? 1) Deny yourself. Forget you exist and live only for Jesus. (Luke 9:23-25). 2) Join Jesus where he is (John 12:24-26).
- Where do we follow Jesus on mission? Wherever he leads.
- When do we follow Jesus on mission? Whenever he calls.
- What do we do when we follow Jesus on mission? Whatever he tells us to.
- Being on mission for Jesus is not boring!
- “Never pity missionaries; envy them. They are where the real action is — where life and death, sin and grace, Heaven and Hell converge.” Robert C. Shannon (Christian author)
- “Some wish to live within the sound of church and chapel bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell!” C.T. Studd (British cricket player and missionary to China)
Are you following Jesus on mission? Are you intentionally listening to where, when and what Jesus is calling you to as his missionary? Do you even consider yourself a missionary for Jesus? (You are!)
Questions for families with small children:
As you child if they know someone, a class-mate, neighbour, teacher, friend, who does not know Jesus. As them if there is some way they can think of to show that person God’s love for them. Help them execute their plan.