So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. –John 6:24 (NLT)
“I gotta tell you something!!!” His excitement took me by surprise. “I went to the (big evangelical preacher’s) renewal event last night. His message was great! And at the end, I stood up and accepted Christ into my life!”
Well, that was exciting. Then he said, “I can’t wait to see what He does for me now!” In my mind was the sound of the needle slipping over a vinyl record.
This particular evangelical preacher delivers a variation of the prosperity gospel; that if we lead a life of obedience and prayer, God will bless us with good health, better relationships, and improved work opportunities.
I find many people don’t hear the obedience message as much as the prosperity part. When they recite the short prayer where they tell Jesus they accept Him (as their Lord and Savior), I fear many expect to sit back and wait for their lives to change.
“So what are you going to do now?” I asked. My friend’s response was limited to a somewhat confused facial expression. “Are you going to join a church?” His eyebrow arched into his hairline. “Do you own a Bible?” A head-tilt completed the answer to my queries.
“Saved by Faith” does not mean there is no required action on our part. To truly believe in Jesus and accept Him as our Lord and Savior is to want to be closer to Him every day. When the thousands of disciples and others realized Jesus left during the night and crossed the Sea of Galilee, they did not wait to see if He would come back. They crossed the sea in search of him. They walked for miles in all kinds of weather to stay close to Jesus. They slept outdoors, skipped meals and disregarded their jobs to be part of Jesus’ life. They could not get enough of his words and miracles. They were active followers, not passive acceptors.
Somewhere today, a new young musician will draw thousands to a concert venue. Crowds will push and shove to get as close as possible to the stage. Some will risk serious injury just for a chance to touch the singer’s arm. Many more thousands will be glued to their smartphones, computers or televisions watching and listening to the concert and monitoring social sites for news and tweets. They will proudly display tee-shirts, caps, bumper stickers and even tattoos proclaiming their faithful love of the emerging star.
Jesus has a lot more followers than any new young singer. And He wants more! God wants us all to know His truth (1 Tim 2:4). He wants us to pick up our cross and follow him into the Kingdom. (Matt 16:24). That is the only way to realize the rewards of heaven (John 14:6). Follow Jesus’ example and lessons as given to us in the Bible. We can’t just sit on the shore and hope he comes back across the sea for us.
So my friend swallowed hard and we had a nice conversation about following Jesus. The next day, I handed him a Bible and offered some amateurish suggestions on how to best read it.
Several months later, I ran into him on the street. He proudly demonstrated his smartphone’s Bible app with the reading plan and study guide. He also showed me numerous gospel, faith and evangelical messages from social media accounts he followed as well as the daily devotional delivered to his e-mail. A local mission church and pastor proved to be a wonderful fit for him. He was visibly happy. I could tell he was close to Jesus.
So following God today may mean Twitter, Facebook and any number of apps, services, and blogs. That’s awesome. Jesus reached well over a billion people through these methods last year. Plus, the Bible still outsells every book listed on the NY Times Best Seller lists combined! More and more folks are exposed to God’s word every day thanks to the miracles of television, the internet, smartphones and the biggest miracle of all, The Bible.
It is easy to follow Jesus today. Use all the tools we are blessed with. His Word gives us the blueprint for a life worth living; one that will lead us to the glory of eternal life with the Father. Whether you receive it 140 characters at a time or sit down with the Good Book for hours, it will enlighten you and draw you closer to God every day. Cross that sea and follow Him.