Sunday, January 31, 2021

Don't Believe In A Lesser Gospel! #JesusFollowers

Are we reaching our full potential as human beings? Most of us would say we definitely aren’t.

And that's even before the question is clarified so that it's clear that the question here doesn't refer to our potential financial situation, or our potential in our working lives, nor our full potential physically.

No, it refers to our full spiritual potential as human beings. And of course, our answer is still probably, no.

Jesus, the man whom God anointed at baptism as his only son and our example in all things, believed that we COULD reach our full human potential. And he demonstrated it with his life.

In fact, Jesus spoke often about our ability and our ne
ed to do Good in serving others, and even claimed that our perfection was possible.

And given the clarifications we've already mentioned, you can guess that this perfection doesn't deal with our hair, our job situation, or the amount of money in our bank accounts.

And of course human potential here does not refer to our physical abilities to compete in races on the track, or even earn high scores on exams.

No, this “perfection” meant moral completeness. And all throughout his ministry, Jesus specifically addressed our need to become morally and spiritually perfect, just as God is perfect.

And he made it abundantly clear to his disciples, and through his eternally living words, to us, that we have the awesome responsibility to follow in his footsteps – the footsteps of someone who pleased his Creator in all things.

The Bible teaches that we are created in the very image of God. We need to take that seriously, not lightly. Because God calls us to be more than just the dust in the ground from which we sprang.

Even though we do remain flawed beings, and make bad choices at times, those bad choices are not to be confused with our human Nature. God tells us what our Nature is, and Jesus through his perfect life shows us what a perfect life is supposed to look like, and what it CAN look like.

And what does this perfect (complete) life look like? What is God's will for our lives? We don't need to guess. Jesus told us explicitly with his words, and then showed us with his life:

We are to be holy as God is holy. We are to be perfect, as God is perfect. We are to be merciful, just as God is merciful. (Lev. 11:44; Matt. 5:48; Luke 6:36)

We are to deny ourselves, and to serve others before ourselves. We are to go the extra mile in that service, and give the shirts off our backs, if necessary. Not only clothe the naked, but comfort the afflicted, visit the sick and the prisoner, and help the stranger on the side of the road we don't know. (Matt 5-7, 25)

These are tall orders. But they are our marching orders, if we want to claim we are following Jesus as our Master.

And we need to understand up front what kind of marching orders are.

Jesus repeatedly said we are to obey his teachings, if we claim to love him. They are not something we can dispense with because they're inconvenient or seem hard. They must be central to our faith, daily.

Jesus said "follow me," not "follow the idea of me," and certainly not "follow what people say or write about me." And by following, Jesus did not mean for his disciples to simply walk behind him, but to "walk" in every sense of that word - to follow his example and walk just as he walked in his life.

If we are seeking to anything less than that, or are listening to those proclaiming a lesser walk of faith, then we are doing less then Jesus calls us to do.

Why? Because he called us to do as he did, and everything Jesus did completely pleased our Creator. Therefore, if we wish to please our creator, we will do as Jesus did, to the best of our abilities.

Why would anyone today listen to anyone who said that we are to do less, or be less, than Jesus calls us to do, and become? Why would we listen to anyone saying that we are not capable of doing what Jesus calls us to do?

To do less is to be less than God wants us to be. That means: less holy, less human, and less complete. God wants us to be fully holy, to be fully human, and to be fully perfect and complete.
To do that means to walk as Jesus walked. And to walk that way means to seek diligently to follow his teachings.

If we doubt that we can do all that Jesus says God wants us to do, and all Jesus CALLS us to do, then we need to stop pretending that we are following Jesus or the challenging Gospel that he preached. We would have, in that case, accepted some lesser gospel.

But as creatures created in the image of the creator of the universe, this lesser, easier gospel is not worthy of us.

Only by humbly seeking to follow in his footsteps, and by seeking forgiveness from our merciful God when we fail to live up to those high standards, can we be truly counted as followers of Jesus and of the Gospel he, himself preached.

Jesus Followers simply are those who read and seek to understand and obey only the teachings of Jesus as a guide to how we should live our lives.

Obeying his teachings, and going out into the world finding others to obey them, as well, is literally the Great Commission he gave his disciples. (Matt 28:20)

Those words and teachings, and no others added to them, are what Jesus says leads directly to our Creator and His perfect will for us. (John 14:6)

With this knowledge now clearly before us, let us rededicate ourselves to truly following Jesus, and no other man. Through him, we will seek to reach our full human potential as children of our Creator.

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