You know, walking with Jesus is serious business… A lot more serious than we make it out to be. I believe now is a good time to acknowledge (myself included) the weight of this calling.
As Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Or, a little further on, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (vs. 33)
That’s /everything/, y’all. Nothing can take precedence above Jesus. If Jesus isn’t your everything, then you’re missing the point.
In another place, Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
There are a lot of people who are walking around, deceived. They may be religious, they may even claim to know Jesus, but when it comes down to it, if they don’t come to God on His terms, they will perish.
Jesus puts it rather plainly, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Seriously, think about it, if you saw someone who was operating in the power of God — prophesying, casting out demons, performing miracles, and doing so “in Jesus’ name” — what would you think of that person? Perhaps, depending on your denomination, you may be skeptical about what they’re doing, but nonetheless you would probably not think them a bad person — after all, they’re doing it all in the name of Jesus. Yet Jesus Himself tells us that they can do all these things… and still not be right with God. Without a real commitment to God, they would literally die and go to hell.
It’s serious business.
As it is written elsewhere, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)
See, Jesus doesn’t just want our lip-service (1 John 3:18). He wants our hearts. He wants our life.
For, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
And, “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
God owns us. Don’t you think that means we ought to serve Him?
Think even of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. They were well-regarded and highly-esteemed. Just about everyone thought they were the pinnacle of right-living. But what did Jesus say about them?
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)
It’s time for people to wake up! It’s not about merely professing to know God; it’s about actually knowing Him and living and abiding with Him in true fellowship and obedience.
As Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:1-4)
And, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)
We need to remain in God. Do you see it? “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (vs. 4b)
So, let’s remain in Him, and we’ll see Him produce in us all kinds of fruit for the glory of His Name.
Hear this final word from the Scriptures:
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For,
“In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”
“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:35-39)
May it be so! Come, Lord Jesus, and find us as your spotless bride (Ephesians 5:27), unpolluted by the world (2 Peter 1:4). And help us, Father, to remain in the love of Jesus, even as Jesus Himself remains in Your love (John 15:10) and lives in perfect harmony with You (John 10:30). Unite us also in harmony with You (John 17:21) that we may live the life that is truly life (1 Timothy 6:19) and not be deceived (Galatians 6:7) by all the enticement of the world (1 John 2:15-17) and the deception of our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). Amen!