Christ, Our Fellowship, Part 5
Someone figured out that Jesus used the term “follow Me” or something similar to it twenty-three (23) times. Now, obviously, some of those are duplicates because of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke; Matthew 4:19, 8:22, 9:9, 10:38, 16:24, 19:21, 19:28; Mark 1:17, 2:14, 8:34, 10:21; Luke 5:27, 9:23, 9:59, 14:27, 18:22; John 1:43, 8:12, 10:27, 12:26, 13:36, 21:19, 21:22).
My point is that Jesus called people to do something and that something was to follow Him.
Too many of us Christians today might see ourselves in the following scenario.
You lived during Jesus’ day. You heard about Him. The day came that you actually saw Him! As He came into view, you could see that He was busy. Children were playing around and near Him, people – the sick, the lame, the blind – came to Him for healing and help. The religious leaders were also there looking arrogant, tense, and frustrating. There was a lot of activity with Jesus in the center.
You finally get the nerve to go up to Him and you ask Him a question. You want to know things, things that are very important to you.
Jesus notices you and turns His attention to you. You lower your gaze but somehow get the nerve to speak. Things just spill out of you as Jesus listens attentively. Finally, you’re done and it’s as if it’s just the two of you.
With a slight smile and a world of concern, He says, “Follow Me.” You’re like, “What?”
I find it fascinating that in Scripture there are many examples of people coming to Jesus to talk with Him and to gain from Him and often, His response is for them to simply follow Him. Yes, it’s true that He healed many people, fed them, and even raised at least one of them from the dead. But more times than not, Jesus tried to help the person look beyond their own physical needs to their spiritual needs and the physical/spiritual needs of others. On a number of occasions, some He had healed actually came back to Him and began following Him.
When Jesus began to call the men who would become His apostles, He normally said something like, “Follow Me” or “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” What I also find fascinating is that Jesus never said “Let’s sit and chat” or “Sit here” or “Let’s have dinner.” In other words, Jesus was always busy but not just for business sake, but He was busy with the Father’s work. This is what He was calling everyone (including His apostles) to also do; to be involved in the Father’s work. It is what He calls us to do now, today.
I sometimes wonder if I had lived during Jesus’ day and saw Him, would I go up to Him and seek for myself? I’m sure I would. In fact, it seems that a good portion of my life as a Christian has been to seek for myself, even though I always try to tell myself that it’s really His will I want and seek.
This idea that God is there for us is something that has infested and infected the Church. It’s a very sad state of affairs. I noted previously that I have always argued that the Church – His Body – is doing well. I got more than a bit impatient with people who have taught otherwise. I mean gee, we are already seated with Christ in the heavenly realms according to Paul (Ephesians 2:4-7). If that’s the case, then how could we possibly not be doing well?
I had clearly failed to comprehend the difference between our standing in Christ and our fellowship with Him that is only available following receipt of our salvation. We Christians today are a sad bunch, by and large. Well meaning at times, but sad. We care too much about what the world thinks and we have become too afraid to be bold for Jesus. We are, in short, perplexed and boxed in by our own inability to walk in true fellowship with Jesus because we are too concerned about our own needs. I’m right there with you, by the way.
do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, (Matthew 6:25-28).
Worry much? Yep, guilty.
Christians have so many “needs” that our continued focus on them keeps us from fellowship with God. We cannot get out of our own way long enough to see what the Father is actually doing. We go to Him with one need after another, yet rarely do we stop to learn what He wants us to do.
Is it any wonder our Christian experience/life is so dismally ineffective? Our entire focus is on ourselves.
But some of you think, “Now wait just a cotton pickin’ minute! I work in my church, I help out in the soup kitchen, I pray daily for the needs of people, and I take care of this, that, and the other thing over there…all without complaining…(outloud)!”
That’s great. Excellent. But what if God is doing something else that He prefers you be involved in? What if He wants you to focus on those things over there? What if He wants you to take more time to “listen” so that He can direct your steps? What if – in the end – you are doing those things so you can brag about them and think that by doing them, you have great treasure in heaven? What happens if you are actually holding a grudge because you don’t receive as much attention from others as you would like or you begrudge the fact that others don’t pitch into help?
Our ideas surrounding our deeds and simply the way we view life as a Christian can and do deceive us. This is one of the best reasons in the world why our eyes cannot focus on what we are doing (don’t let your left hand know what your right is doing, Matthew 6:3).
As I mentioned previously, God has plans and purposes that He is bringing to fruition. There are certain things that He has designed me to fulfill and certain things He has designed you to fulfill. You have specific gifts, talents, and character traits that make you perfectly designed for specific things God has in mind for you and the same applies to me (Matthew 25:14-30).
I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise, (John 5:19).
There is a very strong sense here that Jesus is referring to very specific things that He saw the Father doing. Because He saw the Father doing them, Jesus deliberately chose to partner with the Father. In essence, Jesus yoked Himself with the Father to complete those particular jobs that the Father was doing.
If Jesus saw the Father intending to heal certain people, but Jesus ran off to do something similar but not exactly those things the Father was doing, wouldn’t that have been sin regardless of how wonderful it looked? The answer is obvious.
Jesus fulfilled specific plans and purposes of the Father from birth to death and every step along the way. Jesus never veered from that path. He was so in tune with the Father that He intuitively saw what the Father was doing and simply joined in.
38 …Jesus entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted with all the preparations she had to make, so she came up to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
Martha was complaining because Mary was shirking her duties. She wasn’t helping Martha. She was being rude, right? Wrong. In this particular case, Martha could have stopped what she was doing and joined in with Mary, but it seemed more important for her to be “busy” with her preparations. Jesus sided with Mary on this one.
In Mark 14, we learn of a woman who came to Jesus, broke open an expensive bottle of oil and began to pour it over Jesus’ feet and head. The text tells us that some of the disciples (mainly Judas) were aghast at this “waste.” I mean, my goodness, that bottle could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor, for goodness sakes! Didn’t Jesus care about the poor? He was a socialist, right? Wrong.
Jesus stated that what the woman had done was in preparation for His upcoming burial. No further comments from Judas?
Two things. First, Christians cannot do everything so it’s important to be sure that what you are doing is what the Father is doing. God deliberately picks and choose His plans and purposes and we need to align ourselves with those plans and purposes. Second, the woman had clearly seen the Father “doing” something so she partnered with the Father to do it, whether she fully realized it or not. It was God the Father who moved this woman to anoint Jesus with oil in preparation for His upcoming death and burial. Jesus understood that and whether the woman fully understood it before that point or not, she understood it when Jesus stated it.
She may have thought her desire to break this alabaster bottle open and pour the contents over Jesus a bit unorthodox and actually, weird, but God strengthened her from within so that she could do exactly that. For a woman in Jesus’ day to do this would have been unheard of, yet God proves repeatedly how He places value on individual people regardless of gender. This woman was brave, filled with love for Jesus. Her faith moved her to do what she did. God empowered and blessed her because she moved out in faithful obedience.
How many of us would have reacted like Judas? “What?! What is she doing, Lord?!!! That could have been sold to buy food for the poor! Stop her, Lord!!”
God’s ways are not man’s ways. If we deign to call ourselves Christians, we had best understand that something is required of us. We need to move from just inside the doorway marked “SALVATION” and into the inner rooms of the home where actual fellowship occurs. There will be times when we sup with Jesus, but there will be many more times where we will actually work right alongside the Master, getting our hands dirty as He empowers us to meet the needs of people we never thought we could.
Folks, if what I am saying is true in this series so far, then I know beyond doubt that God is going to put this to the test in and through me. Learning often comes first, but once we learn something, God will hold us responsible for living it. If I don’t live this, then these are just words and nothing more. Folks, I’m pretty sure I want to be done living for myself. I want to partner with God, regardless of the cost. I pray I am found faithful. I’ll keep you posted.
Next time, let’s talk about how faith without works is dead, shall we?
Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: faith, follow him, follow me, woman anointed Jesus with oil, woman with the alabaster bottle.