Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Night with Friends: Careless Christian or Christ Follower by Rev. Doug Spires

I'm so excited to share this tonight. Doug is worship leader at my church. He's a great musician and composer but the best thing about Doug is his love for Christ and his heart for worship. I'm blessed to call him my brother and my friend. 
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Careless Christian or Christ Follower?

I mentioned last week that I heard Dr. Bryant Barnes refer in a message to “careless Christianity,” a lifestyle he described as living, not in full surrender to the Lord, but instead giving Him as “little as we think we can get by with.”  As I’ve pondered that statement throughout the week, I’m really thinking folks who subscribe to careless Christianity just may be surprised one day when they hear Jesus say, “I never knew you; depart from me.” (Matt. 7:23)   

     Christ-following is a really big commitment.  It’s most definitely not a one-time salvation encounter with Jesus and then back to the business of living your life.  Not even close!  Once we meet the Savior, everything changes – literally.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  When a person accepts Jesus as Savior, they are changed from the inside out, beginning with a necessary heart transplant.  Then the discipline of following Jesus really begins, along with the daily dying to self and constant surrendering to His Lordship. And that’s not easy, is it?   

     When I accepted Christ as my Savior, He forgave me for my sin and saved me from it, but my inclination to give in to my sin nature was (and is) still very much present. The flesh and the Spirit are in a perpetual tug-of-war (see Gal. 5:17) and we find ourselves constantly having to choose between “what I want” or “what God wants.”  Let me just go ahead and say for the record, the right choice is always God’s way as opposed to my way every single time.  In fact, therein lies the secret to the abundant life Jesus promised us we could have, although it’s not really a secret at all. Come on, honestly, how many times and how many different ways does Jesus have to say it? – “If you love Me, you will obey my commands.” (John 14:15) Apparently, a few more times since I don’t seem to always get it.  Are you the same way?

     Let’s chew on that for a minute because it’s one of the many conditional “if-then” statements in scripture.  “IF you love Me, [THEN] you will obey what I command.”  I wish I could think of any other interpretation here, but I can’t.  Clearly, according to Jesus Himself, IF I love Him, I will obey Him.  Period!   I will want to obey whatever He asks of me because I love Him.  It’s the same in a marriage relationship.  When my wife asks something of me, I want to do it for her because I love her.  That is my motivation.  And so it is with following Jesus – we follow Him because we love Him and because we trust Him.  We have only to look to Calvary for a permanent reminder of His love extended to us.

     In closing, consider these words from Henry Blackaby:

 

It is hard to obey in this world. A person living an obedient life will have to swim upstream against the tide of the world but any dead fish can float downstream. It takes dogged determination and will to go against the culture but we cannot say we know God and not obey Him. We are deceiving ourselves if we do. We must not discuss it, we must not debate it, we must not question a directive from Him, but we must go where He tells us to go and follow Him…wherever that may take us.

 

     I don’t want to be a careless Christian; I want to be a committed, fully-surrendered Christ follower.  Let’s take that journey together this week, not neglecting a single opportunity to spend time in His Word, in prayer, in worship privately and corporately, in fellowship with other believers, and in ministry to a lost world that is desperately seeking a savior.  May they see in us that we know Him, we follow Him, and that His name is JESUS!