In the last week or so, I have heard two outstanding sermons on following Jesus. And I mean outstanding. The first one was from the pastor of a partner church that our home church interacts with in Nairobi and the second one I heard online – preached by Andy Stanley of Northpoint Church in Atlanta.
Both messages had a theme of Jesus as central to a believer’s life. In the first case, the one that Pastor Oscar preached, he told the story of how he was in love with a woman who was a devout believer – back before Oscar himself believed in God. Although Oscar thought they would get married, his beloved ended the relationship because he did not believe in Jesus. Of course, Oscar couldn’t really believe that things were over, but she affirmed that the possibility of marriage was over. Soon after, Oscar became intrigued with the idea that someone could put the will of God ahead of their own love of a person on this earth. He prayed, to a God he really professed he didn’t believe in, that he could learn to love God as much as his former girlfriend did. It was an incredibly compelling story of how a Christ follower put their love of God ahead of their own desires for their life and how God works in the lives of all of us.
The second sermon was the capstone message to a series that Andy Stanley preached entitled “Follow” – as in “following Jesus.” After several earlier messages, seven to be exact, Andy preached on those people who decide to consider “unfollowing Jesus.” That’s an interesting concept to me. He referred to people, usually in transition, who question their faith and may decide during particularly difficult times to stop following the Savior.
Andy went on to reference a Bible story in John where the disciples are beginning to realize how tough the journey with Jesus could be. People were leaving and, apparently, the disciples were starting to think about the various options. Jesus, in His own inimitable way, asked if they were considering leaving as well. Impetuous Peter asked Jesus a great question. We are told in John 6:68, our verse for the evening, “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Now when I hear that, I realize how complicated the question is. Because following Jesus can mean that we give up things that we rather not give up and do things we rather not do. It’s about whether you are willing to live for Jesus rather than asking Him to live for you. And although I have heard this type of message many times before, Andy brought it to a level that I had never considered before. And that is this. If you quit following Jesus, then who is worth following? And if it’s not Christianity, then what is it?
Because thousands of years from now, it is doubtful that people will be reading about you and me – but Christ has withstood the test of time and huge numbers of faithful people still follow Him. My encouragement this evening is to make sure that you realize that following Jesus as a Christian is the most important thing you can do. And before you decide to deselect the Savior of the world, you should consider what or who is worth following if your answer isn’t Jesus. My prayer is that you will stay close to God and realize that you are loved with a love that you can’t begin to imagine – and that love is eternal. As for me, I choose Jesus – and I hope that you do also… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…