Just Following Jesus

I was thinking today that I might stop calling myself a Christian. Now before my Christian friends get all up in arms thinking I’ve lost my senses,  and my non-Christian friends dance a jig thinking I’ve finally come to my senses, let me explain.

Christianity is one of the major religions of the world. According to the Random House Dictionary on Dictionary.com, the word “religion” means:

a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
 
Based on this definition, I don’t believe creating a new religion was what Jesus came to do. He didn’t actually talk about a new moral code, but rather came to fulfill the moral code that already existed in the Jewish faith. The commandments that He preached about were the sum of the law and the prophets of the Old Testament. He told His disciples, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12.
 
But Jesus came for something so much bigger and more important than creating a set of ritual observances that one must follow or a moral code of conduct for right living. He came to reconcile Himself with His creation. He came because mankind, on its own, is unable to live by any moral code, except perhaps the most lax or lenient of codes. Jesus came because “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
 
For some time I have argued that Christianity is different from other religions in that it is about what God did to redeem us instead of what man must do to redeem himself. But in practice, Christianity has often become no different from other religions because in many Christian churches the divinity of Christ and mankind’s need of a savior are downplayed or even rejected. This makes me sad because I kind of like the name Christian.
 
What I think I’m going to start calling myself is a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is a great song on Third Day’s new CD called “Trust in Jesus” that sums up how I feel about my faith. These are the lyrics:
 
One of these days we all will stand in judgment for
Every single word that we have spoken
One of these days we all will stand before the Lord
Give a reason for everything we’ve done
And what I’ve done is

Trust in Jesus
My great Deliverer
My strong Defender
The Son of God
I trust in Jesus
Blessed Redeemer
My Lord forever
The Holy One, the Holy One

What are you going to do when your time has come
And your life is done and there’s nothing you can stand on
What will you have to say at the judgment throne
I already know the only thing that I can say I

There’s nothing I can do on my own to find forgiveness
It’s by His grace alone I trust in Jesus
Trust in Jesus

Religion , defined as a moral code, can tell us how we should live, but it can’t tell us how we should die. And you know we all have to die someday, each and every one of us. When that time comes I know that if I come before God and stand upon my own merits, on my own actions in having done the right thing according to the Christian moral code, I will fail. There is no doubt in my mind or my heart that I would be judged guilty of selfishness and pride just for starters. But because I humbly accept Jesus’ atonement for my sins, my judgement will be “innocent” because He was innocent, the perfect Redeemer to pay my debt.

When asked by a rich young man what good deed would earn him eternal life in Matthew 19:16-26, Jesus illustrated that even this good, rich man who had obeyed all the commandments would not have eternal life unless he followed Jesus. His disciples were astounded and asked who could possibly then enter the Kingdom of God. “Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.’” Matthew 19:26.

I look at the world around me and I see violence, hatred, sadness, brokenness, starvation, poverty, and so much more that religion and moral codes have failed to fix. In spite of Jesus’ message of redemption and grace, people still keep trying to fix everything on their own, to figure out what good deed they must do to earn eternal life and make all things right. If we just have compassion and are accepting and tolerant of all religions we will be enlightened and the world will be a better place. I do agree that compassion and respect for others are wonderful goals of religion, but they are not enough. What we do not need are more of the religions that have failed us thus far.

What each individual needs is a Savior; what mankind needs is a Deliverer; what the world needs is a Redeemer. But there is hope. We have such a Redeemer! Jesus said:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” 

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7.

Have you seen Him? He’s waiting for you to come and follow. Will you join me?

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13 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Music

13 responses to “Just Following Jesus

  1. Thank you for allowing me to share, Linda.

    What if we would really live so that others ‘mock’ us by calling us Christians? If we could really, truly live as He commanded … there would hardly be a need to stand up and declare with our mouths who we think we are as our lives would be a living testimony!

    [Christian, Follower of Christ, Servant of Jehovah, His Hands Extended, are all wonderful names I can call myself but I want the way I live for Him to speak of who He is in my life and what He has done for me. If I miss the mark it will be sad indeed. I do not want to be weighed and found wanting.]

    Our team meets in a few weeks. I’d so like to raise this discussion point. Please pray that I will remember to return here and post the responses for you. I pray your post will not only cause us to take stock but that God would use your thoughts to fuel the start of a revival!!

    Blessings
    ann

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    • Ann, This comment reminded me of the song “Crazy Enough” by MercyMe, which goes like this:

      Call me crazy but what if we learn
      To love our brother for nothing in return?
      Oh how the rules would change

      Reaching out to the ones who need help
      Treating them as you first would treat yourself
      Now that would be insane

      [CHORUS]
      It may just be crazy enough
      To work if we could only love
      What if we somehow changed the world?
      It may just be crazy enough

      “With God, all things are possible” even if they seem a bit crazy. Peace, Linda

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  2. Linda,

    This is probably the umpteenth time I’ve quoted my Pastor “Relationship is everything”. If we have a right relationship with our Father then we will love and serve Him as we should. If we have a right relationship with our brothers and sisters, then there will be love (and the other fruit of the Spirit), respect, understanding, and whatever else we need to live together while we live together here.

    I could be wrong but I don’t think Jesus ever referred to His followers as Christians. The name was pronounced (more like a mockery than anything else) on those who were said to be like Christ. How can I be a Christian if I don’t reflect Him? … [I never even realized how this lines up with Exodus 20:7 “thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain” ! Calling myself a Christian while living in sin is wrong]. If my life can be so like His that I become ‘guilty by association’ I think it would be a life worth living.

    When we, as humans, can look beyond our own faults and failures and learn to love as the Christ did when He walked this earth, we would be well on our way to living as He commanded in Matthew 22:37-40. ( The great commandments)

    I too agree that structure is needed. I also believe that we need not get so hung up on rules and putting up fences and putting others in boxes that we forget the reason we signed up in the first place, to “let our lights so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven” . Mathew 5:16

    If I live to be as old as Methuselah and I don’t reflect a Christ-like lifestyle, I dare say I would have lived in vain. At the end of it all, we each get to give an account of the life we lived…

    God bless you Linda. Thanks for this thought-provoking piece. Jesus sought those who needed Him and spent time ministering tothe despised and rejected. Yes, it would be good if we could learn to love like He did.

    I want to be identified with Christ Jesus.Bearing the name is pointless if we don’t live up to His example. I pray that God would be pleased with the life I live before Him.

    In His Service,
    ann

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    • Ann, What a thoughtful comment! Thank you for adding this to my post. Structure is great, but you are right that the relationship is everything. When we are in a right relationship with Jesus and are reconciled to God, then He writes His law on our hearts and we have a desire to be more like Him. I pray that God is pleased with the life I live, as well. I am thankful that He is faithful to answer heartfelt prayers such as this, and will see my life as one who trusted in Jesus. Peace, Linda

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  3. Robyn C

    Followed your link from Connect. Very nicely expressed. The song Debbie refers to is by Jason Gray “More Like Falling In Love” from “Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue”. Great lyrics, and so true! Looking forward to more entries.

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    • Thanks Robyn for helping me out with that! :)

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    • Robyn, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. And thanks for the help on the song from Deb. It wasn’t familiar to me but I will have to check it out now that I know the artist. I usually post something every day, except Sunday. I will probably only include a link at 3D Connect when a Third Day song is included in the post. Don’t want people thinking I’m just trying to promote my blog. But I’d love to have you come back any time. Peace, Linda

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  4. Our CHRISTIANITY has lost much of it’s flavor – or I guess – much has lost it’s flavor. You are so right.

    “What each individual needs is a Savior; what mankind needs is a Deliverer; what the world needs is a Redeemer.” — Linda – that is such a nice progression of thought. It’s kind of a trilmma. Switch the terms for Our Lord around and each is needed for each point in the progression of thought. I just sat here and rewrote it and kept switching and I think I got it. All about Our Lord isn’t it. Wow.

    We need a little RELIGION – we need some structure, and unity, but without Jesus it’s a unity of nothing. Thank You Linda.

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    • Craig, Yes, I agree that structure and rules can be important, but as you point out, without Jesus we have a unity of nothing. As for the progression, now that I look at it again I think it should be Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer. But I probably won’t go back and change it. I tend not to edit my own writing much, unless I find an actual typo. Peace, Linda

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  5. Thank you, Linda. It seems like a subtle difference to many of my family and friends, but I prefer ‘Christ follower.’

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    • Eric, I like that, too – “Christ follower.” It focuses quite nicely the person and the relationship that are important. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m looking forward to reading more of your poetry, too. Peace, Linda

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  6. I am so thankful for His Spirit in you, that guides you and helps you to continue to write such important posts. Your reasoning about religion and Christianity makes a lot of sense. I somehow came to start calling myself a believer in Jesus, rather than Christian.
    This brings to mind a song, that I don’t know all of or who sings. (big help, huh)
    It’s gotta be
    more like falling in love
    than something to believe in
    more like loosing myself
    than pledging my allegiance
    called up, called out
    come take a look at me now
    seems like I’m falling
    in love.
    (another part goes something like)
    ’cause all religion every made of me
    was a sinner with a stone tied to my feet
    it never set me free . . .
    Thank you Linda, for using the gifts He has given you to tackle some of the harder issues! You bless me! deb

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