Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Follow Me"

Hello All,

This past weekend was different on so many levels. First, it was Mother's Day weekend and our first Mother's Day Sunday at our church plant in Colton. It was also the first weekend that we were unable to meet in the Hutton Center, which we learned about two days before, on Friday! With no time to find an alternative meeting location, we decided to meet outside in the adjacent park. I'm told that this particular park, right next to the Hutton Center, has been dubbed "Homicide Park" in the past by local police.

"Impromptu Sunday Morning Mother's Day Service In Homicide Park." You're gonna love the graphic on that flyer!

Frankly, most of the names and the hype surrounding Colton just have not turned out to be anything. Besides, when the Lord is on your side and it's His church, there is nothing that can come against it!

All of this provides the context for what was really different for me personally. My text for Sunday morning was Matthew 4:12-25. Within those verses is the recorded call of Christ of the first disciples. It's a simple sentence: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." I focused in on those words "Follow me." My message continued, even though my mind hung onto those words. Still preaching, my mind rabbit trailed a bit, as if another message was attempting to break through. It was a powerful time which left me indelibly impressed.

What caught me was the simplicity of following Jesus, but the complexities that keep me, or anyone else from actually doing that. I was fascinated by what the Lord began to reveal to me.

What keeps any of us from following Jesus? I'd begin simply with a genuine lack of concern for what He actually wants from us. If concern is present, the desire to sit patiently and listen is often not. In order to follow Jesus, we must want to and we must listen to discern where He might be leading.

Often, we plot our own courses based on what we desire or what we desire to imitate. Christian sub-culture demands a certain level of conformity, and Christian men and women can often be swayed by this. In my prayer life, I'll freely admit, that I need to spend more time listening to the walking orders.

This might be the #1 issue in following Jesus, but there is a deeper issue, at least in my life. As many of you are aware, I have been on Facebook for quite some time now. I enjoy the interaction and the repartee, as well as the nearly instantaneous ability to reply with one another. However, over the last several weeks, I have noticed some deleterious side effects that have plagued me personally. Before I delve, I feel that I must say that this is more than likely due to me spending more time than I should on Facebook, and thus the answer is likely found in the balance that others have achieved.

That being said, for me, I find that my following eyes get caught on just about everyone else. This expresses itself in envy, both in good and bad ways. For example, I envy my missionary friends, who give of themselves in ways that other Christians cannot comprehend. I envy their work and their consecration. On the other hand, I envy those with the blessings to do things that I pray to one day enjoy.

Along with my envy, there is a good deal of grief. This grief is both for my friends, as well as on account of my friends. I am grieved for my friends who have been hurt by churches or Pastors, usually unintentionally, but hurt nonetheless. I am grieved for the pain that some friends suffer as I write, either through the pain of loss, disease, or divorce, which is a living loss. I grieve for them. Then there are the friends who have decided to walk away from Christ, either to atheism, homosexuality, etc. Some have just grown cold to Christ, and it would seem that they would not care if I told them that Christ's return would occur today! These are the ones who at one time shone brightly for Christ and my heart aches for, on account of them.

All this flashed through my mind as I considered the words of Christ: Follow me! But then, I remembered another set of verses that took place at the same location, just three years removed from the first call. It's Peter and Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and they have a lot to say to each other. Peter has failed miserably and Jesus has triumphed victoriously! He is calling Peter to live in His victory and live in His calling. This is when Peter asks Jesus an honest question.

"Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, 'Lord, who is the one who betrays You?' Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, 'But Lord, what about this man?' Jesus said to him, 'If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.'"
John 21:20-22

"What is that to you? YOU FOLLOW ME!" Jesus never asked me to look around, look over at, or look in upon anyone! He asked me to follow Him. It intrigues me that it all came back to what Christ had initially said to Peter. How true is that? How many of us need to return to following Jesus? How complicated have we made it? How difficult has it become? It hasn't! We have complicated it and made it difficult in our attempt to homogenize and standardize Christianity!

Whatever it is that you are doing, whoever it is that you are, as for me, I do not stand in a place to judge. I would stand and call you to your own self-reflection. Ask yourself: Are you truly following Christ? If the "you" of yesterday met the "you" of today, would that "you" slap "you" in the face? That is for your blog, not mine!

As for me, I cannot spend any more time asking about you. I need to get about the business of following Christ.

Though none go with, still I will...

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

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