The Path Forward!
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (NLT)
Note from Kip…
There is a tendency in us to desire progress but we despise progression. Whenever we are presented with a challenge that requires us to a group of people to move forward, there are likely to be as many concepts to what that means as there are those involved in the process.
It’s almost as natural as rain falling from a moisture laden cloud.
I’m an analytical person, so attempting to understand why and how are part of my character. As I consider the why and how of this issue of groups moving forward I have come to a conclusion of why this often can be so very troubling for any group of people. The direction doesn’t even have to be forward. It could just as easily be sideways, back, or upside down. What you can observe is that when people are asked to consider a change of any sort, the instantaneous response to the introduction of the concept is, ‘What is best for me’.
I seriously don’t think most of us realize it or even have an idea that this has taken place, but at the same time I am just as sure that it happens with almost each and everyone of us.
The issue is not that we do this. The issue is what our next steps are immediately following the introduction of that thought. I say this because I am not sure how we in fleshly bodies can not react by considering ‘what is going to happen to me in this matter!’ It isn’t any different than our ‘fight or flea’ reaction to the introduction of danger. There is a biological trigger that is activated when someone in the group says, “We’ve got to move”.
Our immediate and unconditional reaction to that is to ask ourselves, “What is the path forward for me”.
The problem that is introduced with that reaction is that it isn’t about you. It isn’t about me either. Nor is it about the people sitting closest to you, or even those on the outskirts of the group.
Where conflict takes place is where those in the group, dwell on that immediate reaction and don’t take into consideration what or who the action is about, because it’s not about us. It is about something or someone else. Even with something as personal as our wedding to our mate, it necessarily needs to be about some one or thing else.
Change in the Life of a Christian
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
Romans 12:9-13 (NLT)
Don’t be a pretender. When we give our lives to Christ Jesus there are two actions that become paramount in our relationship with the Lord going forward. They are follow and surrender.
To Follow: We give our heart to Jesus and it is a given that we have decided to be a follower. We become a follower of Christ. The Bible uses another term for it which is disciple. We sign up to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. That means we are going to ‘follow Him’.
“Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
Matthew 4:19-20 (HCSB)
To Surrender: The other acton that takes place upon our acceptance of Jesus as our savior is surrender. If we don’t surrender, we are not prepared to be a disciple of Jesus. Sounds a bit harsh but, it is true. Surrender comes as part of the package with salvation, right there along with follow.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it. What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?
Matthew 16:24-26 (HCSB)
Commitment to Christ Jesus involves following Him, specifically.
You may have noticed in both of these passages I just used, that they include follow as a key action. First Jesus approaching his soon too be Apostles, says ‘follow me’.
We can’t just skip past this. These individuals had lives and interests that they were pursuing for their own benefit. One was perhaps anticipating a well earned vacation with the family and maybe another was saving to send his sibling to Rome to learn under the scholars of the day. They had plans, they had self-interests, they had jobs and a life to consider. But Jesus said, follow.
And they did!
With little or no perceived hesitation they began to follow this Jesus, in the process abandoning each of their self-interests.
As for the surrender, those same Apostles surrendered all that they knew and was familiar to them in an instant.
I think that is pretty clear. They almost certainly considered in a flash what this change might mean for themselves, but as soon as that thought shot across their cerebral cortex it was replaced with a desire to follow and surrender to this savior before them that was so bold as to say, ‘Pick up your cross and follow me”, give it all up that you’ve been accustomed to in the past and let’s do something that is going to be transformative for not just you, but for the world around you.
In an instant.
Now Comes the Important Part
Disciple of Christ Jesus: who are you following? Are you not just prepared but eager to surrender the position, property, and potential that you had secured in the back of your mind, to pick up a cross and follow? If not, then we have to ask ourselves one critical question. Why?
If the response to the ‘why’ says anything about personal interests, then you need to ask yourself who are you following. This is going to sting; you need to ask yourself if you’re truly following Christ Jesus.
Because, if you consider yourself to be a Christian, you define your core action to be a surrendered follower of Christ, His disciple. If you are pinning your response on self interest, you’re not prepared to follow Him.
The Path Forward
Following by definition means that the position you are in this second is going to change. We are going from point A, to point B, to point C, and so on.
A disciple of Jesus when presented with change isn’t going to consider the impact to themselves. Yes, human nature will trigger a reflex in our mind, but with our objective fixed on Jesus and only Jesus, we understand that change is inevitable if we are following Him. More than that, our focus never should waver from Him as our point of reference because He is what we need to consider in the change.
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
James 4:7-8 (NLT)