Thursday, August 23, 2012

Jesus Followers Are Forever Focused

Beneath a RR bridge on the River Raisin

Who, really, is a "Christian?" While it's not for us to judge in a final sense, we are given indicators. Jesus tells us that simply because a person says "Lord, Lord," it does not follow that they follow Jesus as Lord. Just because someone regularly gathers with the Church doesn't mean they are "church."

George Barna estimates there are 77 million “church-going ‘Christians’” in America. Sam Storms takes issue with this...
“… because the Scriptures tell me in no uncertain terms that genuine, saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus is transforming and life-changing and sin-killing and Christ-exalting in its effects.  I fear countless people are living a religious charade, having been assured by undoubtedly well-meaning ministers that their "decision" for Jesus was unto eternal life in spite of the fact that there is little if any spiritual fruit in their experience. (The Hope Of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians, p. 54)

A real Jesus-follower is a true Jesus-lover. I have seen this happen in many people. Their lives are transformed, and remain in an ongoing process of metamorphing into Christlikeness. Their desires change, not as a result of striving and will power, but because of a compelling, sacrificial love and power that now resides within them. Such people are focused, not for a few days or months, but forever. Jesus-followers are forever focused. Christ's love compels them.

Henri Nouwen expresses it this way:

"We can say that persons reborn in the Spirit are characterized by their single-mindedness. They have only one desire: to do God's will in all things, or - to put it in Jesus' words to Nicodemus - to "do the truth" and thus "to come into the light so that what they are doing may plainly appear as done in God" (John 3:21). They are so caught up in God's love that everything else can only receive its meaning and purpose in the context of that love. They ask only one question: 'What is pleasing to the Spirit of God?' And as soon as they have heard the sound of the Spirit, they follow its promptings even when it upsets their friends, disturbs their environment, and confuses their admirers. They believe unhesitatingly in Jesus, the Son of God, who was sent into the world 'not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved' (John 3:17). Their faith is so deeply rooted that they are unafraid - not only of other people's opinions, but even of God's judgments, because their rebirth has brought them into the light." (Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, 62-63)