As I reflect upon Jon’s sermon on Easter, I must admit . . . I am struggling to follow the way of Jesus! On the one hand, there have been seasons in my life where I have followed without question, on the other hand, there have been seasons where I have been timid and even fearful to follow. At times, you see, I want the benefits Jesus gives to His followers without actually following! That might sound like heresy to most; however, for me, following Jesus is not easy. When I chose to accept Christ, I thought my life was set. While it is true that my justification was firmly established, this mortal body of mine still fights against following Jesus and being Holy! I know what you are asking right now: “Why do you struggle Mike?”
Well, to be honest with you, I am similar to the man Jesus speaks to in Matthew 19:16-24. On this particular day, Matthew records a conversation between Jesus and a young man who asks, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” Without blinking an eye, Jesus asks this young man, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then, the young man asks, “Which commandments am I to keep?” Responding to the question, Jesus says, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
At this point, this young man must be swelling with pride as he is checking off each requirement on Jesus’ to do list for eternal life. As Jesus’ voice becomes silent, the young man looks at his checklist. He looks not once, not twice, but he looks three times to make sure his eyes are not playing a trick on him. In that moment, he realizes . . . nothing lacks a check! With his eyes wide open, I am certain this young man must look at Jesus with a puzzling look and asks, “Is this ALL I must do?” “If it is, then I’ve got it made!” Of course, that is my take on what happens. Here is what really happens: The young man tells Jesus, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus, looking directly into the young man’s eyes, says, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The young man was right! There is more to the checklist! As these words fell upon the young man’s ears, I am certain his head began to fall until his eyes were fixated upon the ground. He is disappointed at what he hears, and he walks “away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.”
Okay, Mike, how are you similar to this guy who walked away from eternal life? I’ll get to that in a minute, but let me address another important Scripture passage that applies to the actions of this young man with whom Jesus speaks.
While I believe that to confess Christ results in justification, I also believe in these words of James: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14-17). So, Mike, what are you saying?
I’m saying that my works reveal my faith! I am good with confession that leads to eternal life. This I have done; however, like the young man, I, too, look at Jesus and ask, “Is that all?” Jesus, looking back at me with those piercing eyes, says, “One more thing must you do.” I immediately ask Him, “What more shall I do?” He responds, “Follow Me!” Gulp . . . Uh . . . What do you mean Jesus? I can follow you when it is convenient for me; is that ok? “No, child!” Wait a minute, don’t leave me just yet Jesus. Let me see . . . I can follow you on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s; is that ok? “No, child!” Ummm, Wait, wait, let me check my phone calendar here for a moment. “No, child . . . Give Me your phone and your calendar!” Uh . . . Urr . . . You don’t understand Jesus, my phone calendar contains my life. “No, you don’t understand child. Your life is what I am wanting from you. Every day that I give you, I want you to follow Me!”
Following is a continual action that reveals my faith! I just wonder how many times, since my confession, I have not followed? I wonder how many times following Jesus was inconvenient for me? If I am truthful, I have to say more times than I’d like.
Now, it’s time to address the present. Enough of the past! Enough of what I have done! I guess the real question is this: What shall I do on this day? What shall I do this hour? What shall I do this minute? What shall I do this second? I wonder . . . Will I give Jesus my cell phone? I wonder . . . Will I give Jesus my schedule? Or will my priorities be . . . my cell phone, my schedule, then Jesus?