Updated February 6, 2019
As the guide carved his ice pick into the crystallized snow, we amateur volcano climbers copied his every move. We carefully listened to him and tried to master the proper technique. After all, we were about to climb a Chilean volcano. We needed all the help we could get.
As we made the trek up, I developed my own style of doing things. The advice of the guide soon faded as I discovered that I could take shortcuts with my pick. After a few not-so-gentle reminders from the guide, I reluctantly listened to him. I guess he was right: he was the one who climbed the volcano every day, not I. So he probably knew what he was talking about.
Following. It’s really hard to do, especially after we’ve been doing it for a while. Following Jesus is no different. We tend to take shortcuts and ignore instructions when we’ve been at this faith thing for years. We feel like we know it all.
When Peter and Andrew first met Jesus, they were fishing. They were literally throwing their net into the lake when they heard Jesus call out, “Come, follow me! And I’ll send you out to fish for people!” (Matthew 4:19, TLB).
Jesus must have truly impressed them, because they left everything — their jobs, incomes, homes, families — and started following him. Peter and Andrew didn’t need a lot of time to think about it — they just did it. They were compelled to start hanging out with Jesus all day, every day, soaking up his words and doing what he said.
Many of us are like Peter and Andrew. We can’t help but follow Jesus when we meet him. It’s a no-brainer. Of course we’ll believe. Of course we’ll do what he says.
But as time goes on, our dedication falters. We assume we don’t really have to follow everything Jesus said. We’ve done this Christian thing for long enough that we think we have it figured out. We begin to go through the motions without actually thinking about what following him really means.
Choosing to follow Jesus isn’t just a one-time decision. It’s not something that we pledge to do in an emotional moment and then forget about. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Stale godliness is ungodliness. Let our religion be as warm, and constant, and natural as the flow of the blood in our veins. A living God must be served in a living way.”
To be a disciple is to persevere in our commitment to follow Christ wholeheartedly, no matter what. And that commitment requires action. It means dying to self, choosing Christ’s will over our own, and trusting his Spirit to fill us, empower us, and guide us as we obey by faith.
Think about Peter, the disciple who left everything to follow Jesus. When it mattered the most, he disowned Christ (Mark 14:66-72). Even after three years of spending every day with Jesus, when someone questioned him about knowing Christ, Peter claimed he had never even met him. Like Peter, we’ll have our moments when we disappoint God and ourselves. The good news is that Jesus restored Peter by grace, and he will restore us, too.
Being a disciple is about a lot more than just recognizing one day that Jesus is the Son of God. It means choosing to do what he says every single day by faith that his Spirit will empower us to do so. It means letting go of everything that holds us back from obeying him fully, including our materialism and selfishness. It means trusting in him at all times — in the midst of our deepest suffering or our purest joy.
Because choosing to follow Jesus really is a no-brainer. We can be absolutely certain that he knows what he’s talking about.
Does your faith lead to obedience? When was the last time you chose your will over Christ’s? Make a renewed commitment to walk in the Spirit today:
Dear Jesus, I want you to be in charge of every aspect of my life, and commit myself to do anything you want me to do, anytime, anywhere, and at any cost, knowing that your Spirit is giving me the power to do so. Amen.
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