Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Follow Me

Raise your hand if you're on Twitter. Okay, you don't really have to raise your hand...but I'm guessing that many of you are either on Twitter or know someone who is (you know me if no one else). Twitter is a popular social network on which you "tweet". You say what you have to say in 140 characters or less. It's simple: people follow you when they either know you or like what you have to say. Kim Kardashian has over 13,391,000 followers. That's the size of a small nation... Or what about Justin Bieber...he has 17,782,000 followers. That's a LOT of people....but, I'm pretty sure that if Jesus had a Twitter...his follower count would leave Bieber's in the dust.

Following someone on Twitter is fairly simple...you just click a button and go on with your life. Just because you follow Kim or Justin doesn't mean that you live your life like they live theirs. Following God is a little bit more than clicking the follow button...following God means that you live like him. Whoever you follow, you will end up where they are going. To be a Christian is to be a follower...does your life reflect the higher standard that we are called to live? Most Christians, when asked if they are a disciple of Christ will say yes. Sadly, this isn't always true. A disciple is born when your words, actions, and lives come together and show that you are following God. It's time to examine your life...are you really a follower? Are you really who you say you are? Or are you just claiming to be a follower and never really changing your life? If you are really following Jesus, then you'll look and act like him. If you are really following him, you'll end up where he is.

So...lets do some heart surgery. My dad always used that phrase when he talked about God doing work in your heart and life...cutting away the bad and giving you a new heart and new desires. It's often a painful process...but in the end, your quality of life will be improved. If you're ready, then it's time to really examine your heart and life. Ask yourself these questions and be honest about your answers.
  • When was the last time I went out of my way to help someone else? (When was the last time I inconvenienced myself in order to meet someone else's need)
Acts 14:21-22 They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
These men were followers. They weren't out for personal gain or their own fame or to try to gain heaven...they followed because they caught a glimpse of who God really was...they had selfless faith. Do you really live to heal and bless others? Their whole life mission was to strengthen the body and not overlook it. Being a disciple is about giving and not taking. Even Jesus came to serve and not to be served. When was the last time you laid aside the important things in your life to meet the needs of someone else?

When was the last time you laid aside your schedule to strengthen other believers? If we can't even take the time to help our brothers and sisters in the faith - how can we help a lost and broken world? We have no purpose in the world if we can't love and help in our church and our ministry. The Bible even says that any man who says that he loves God but then hates his brother is a liar. We have to take care of one another.

How many times have you said you are a believer and then overlooked someone in need? Jesus said that what we have done for the least of these is what we have done for him. To follow Jesus means that we live and serve and bless just like he did. I'm not saying that you have to go person to person and meet every single need of every single person on the face of the earth...no...don't even go there. I'm saying that you are called to meet the needs within your grasp and ability to meet them.

Start here and now...reach out to someone: your roommate, your mom, your dad, your girlfriend, your boyfriend. It doesn't always mean buying someone something or taking someone in...meeting needs can be as simple as bringing joy and encouragement to someone. Bringing a smile to someones faith or encouraging them will bring strength, and love to people and even something that simple has the power to change lives. Like I said, you don't have to give with money necessarily..."silver and gold, I have none"...give with your life...with your time. The people around you might be hurting...their faith might be hanging in the balance...but sometimes all it takes to bring healing to their lives is you investing your time and love.

As a follower of God - you represent him on this earth. Jesus ran to need...he was never too busy to heal or restore. He called you...he called you to bring hope to the poor in spirit, to meet the needs around us and to love others.
Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of he LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
  • When was the last time I loved my enemy or loved a stranger?
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
You will be known by your love. When was the last time you loved someone who had wronged you or someone you didn't even know? Too often we expect everyone else to treat us perfectly and make allowances for when we screw up towards them...but then turn around and hate them when they screw up towards us. We are all human. Our love and treatment of others is not perfect...and we cannot expect others to love and treat us perfectly all the time either. We are called to love. Plain and simple...love.
  • Who is the last person you discipled?
This is ultimately how you know you are a disciple. Who is the last person you invested in and taught the ways and words of Jesus? God didn't save you for heaven...salvation isn't the end of the journey...it's the beginning. You are called to go out and make disciples...invest in others and teach them. The pastor of your church isn't on his own in this...it's your responsibility to take what you've learned and multiply it into others. Wearing a cross around your neck and listening to Chris Tomlin doesn't make you a disciple...pouring out into others what Jesus poured into you is what makes you a disciple.

What would it look like if Jesus lived like we do? If he complained about work all the time or laid around the house watching TV...if he lived like that, churches would be empty and the world would be unchanged. He didn't just wait around...he made noise! He rocked the boat...broke the mold...and any other kind of description you want to use that describes what he did! He embraced the lepers, he made friends with the social outcasts, and he loved the unlovable! Because he did those things, the world was forever changed! When you embrace the world, the social outcasts, the unlovable...you will see change in your world too.

It's not even about the "unlovable" all the time...it's about your own family. We come together as a family every week to worship...but a lot of the time, we don't even know each others names. We just do the same things week after week...talking to the same people...never branching out. Start there...sit someplace different...talk to someone that you don't know.

Another thing...I just want to give warning...if you don't know the book then don't go. You need to be discipled before you go out making disciples.

Also...Christians are talented at making things awkward. You don't have to stand hand in hand around a campfire singing hymns to disciple someone. A disciple is someone who lives life with you. Go to the mall, go see a good movie...it's about living life together. Jesus discipled people by living it out in his own life.
Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Don't just sit on your rear end and be comfortable...you are called to GO and make disciples...teach, love, serve. Jesus isn't stagnate...he's moving (all over the place)...why are you still sitting around? If you think God won't/can't use you then take a look at Peter...if Jesus used a man who denied him 3 times to build his church...he can do even more through you. It doesn't matter how many times you've messed up. You don't have to be some super-spiritual-half-human being to be used...he called regular people to be disciples. It starts with you. There is no greater thing you can do with your life than decide to follow him.

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