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Following Jesus

by Harvey Sider

We value wholehearted obedience to Jesus through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.

Imagine how Peter felt when Jesus spoke to him for the first time, saying, “Come, follow me” (Mark 1:17). Now imagine how he felt three years later when Jesus’ final words, “Follow me!” emphatically reminded Peter that his call to obedience remained personal and absolute (John 21:22). Sandwiched between these first and last words were three years for Peter to follow Jesus, learning from His words and deeds. No longer could Peter merely fulfill his own personal goals or selfish whims. Rather, being a disciple involved wholehearted obedience to Jesus Christ.

Following Jesus in full obedience gives Him highest priority in all of life. While this has endless implications, broad areas often affected include vocation, interpersonal relationships, and talents.

With respect to vocation, obeying God involves doing what He wants us to do wherever and whenever He wants us to do it. In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer proclaims, “It is not for us to choose which way we shall follow. That depends on the will of Christ.” The journey of discipleship is one of following wherever the Lord calls.

In terms of interpersonal relationships, complete obedience to Christ often involves new challenges and responsibilities. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7), Jesus speaks of relating to spouses (5:27–32), enemies (5:43–48), and siblings (7:1–5). Essentially, Jesus calls his followers to reconcile differences and to love and care for all others, no matter who they may be. When personalities clash or when other difficulties present themselves, Christ’s followers are called to love and forgive, and to work through tough issues.

To read more . . .

about following Jesus, as well as other Brethren in Christ core values, see the book Focusing our Faith: Brethren in Christ Core Values, edited by Terry L. Brensinger.

As for talent, obedience calls us to surrender our abilities to serve Christ and others. Scripture repeatedly suggests that we have been gifted by God in order to serve each other, whether as technicians, teachers, farmers, doctors, lawyers, housewives, chefs, pastors, or any other vocation (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:7–16). While some professions are more prominently associated with the Church, each is equally important and necessary to its development.

As we live in the Spirit and cultivate communication with the Lord, we can rest assured that our every step will be directed by God. To be genuine disciples, we must give wholehearted obedience to Jesus Christ, trusting in the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. We must walk the narrow way, placing what Jesus wants above our own wishes and ambitions. Only then can we follow Him without looking back.

Permission granted to excerpt portions of Focusing Our Faith by Evangel Publishing House

This article originally appeared in the winter 2007 issue of In Part magazine.
Harvey Sider

Harvey Sider has pastored BIC congregations in Toronto, Cheapside, and Stayner, ON. He has also served as a missionary in India, president of Niagara Christian Collegiate, bishop of the Canadian Conference, and moderator of the denomination. Now retired, he remains active in the life of the wider church through a variety of volunteer roles.

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