by Ivan Ho 31 Dec 2021
He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
Matthew 12:30 NKJV
Following Jesus involves personal conscious decisions and commitment to pursue Christ and to do His will so that there is no such thing as having one foot in and one foot out as far as God is concerned. You either follow Him or you don’t, you’re either with Him or you’re not. Jesus knows who His followers are as opposed to those who are mere religious pretenders. Just as you are either married or you’re not, it is not possible to sit on the fence when it comes to being followers of Christ. When Jesus called His disciples, they all made conscious decisions and efforts to physically follow Him. They made decisions to leave behind their past and whatever are holding them back in order to follow Jesus.
Is following Jesus an option?
To follow Jesus or not is an option and sadly many people, for one reason or another, choose not to follow. Having said that, if one desires to be a disciple of Jesus, there isn’t an option not to follow Him.
And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Luke 14:27 NKJV
A classical Biblical example is the rich young ruler who, though he tried to follow God’s commandments since his youth, was unwilling to let go of his riches to follow Jesus the person Himself.
Some people may be legally married but in reality the couples live separate lives because the wife is not willing to follow her husband. Some may like the idea of marriage but not the idea of having to give up their own life in order to follow their spouses. In fact, I believe some remain singles for that reason, because they aren’t prepared to let go of his or her life to follow another. The same mentality is found in the church when there are those who confess to be Christians who do not want to let go of their own possessions, pursuits and preferences in order to follow Christ.
I believe there is a difference between being saved and being disciples of Jesus. I believe anyone can be saved from spending eternity in hell by repentance and accepting Jesus into his or her life. One of the thieves who died on the cross next to Jesus ends up in heaven although he did not have time to follow Jesus. The bible tells us that if we sincerely believe in Jesus that He died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead, and confess Jesus as our Lord, we will be saved.
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Romans 10:8-10 NKJV
However, if we want to be disciples of Jesus, just believing and confessing Jesus is not enough, we have to commit our life to follow Him as He leads us, and are prepared to give up anything to follow our Lord. On the other hand, if one decides to pursue the things in his own heart instead of what is in God’s heart, even though he may believe in Jesus and attend church, he could be in danger of loosing his life in the end.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.
Luke 9:23-26 KJV