Follow Me...

Posted by Mark Labuschagne on Sunday, June 13, 2010
The Church is not meant to be a popularity contest. It is not meant to be a social club or gathering of a bunch of pew warmers, but rather an example of Christ. Thank God that even in the midst of the modernism that has crept into the Church today, people are still coming to Christ. But I wish to add that it is no thanks to our methods, but rather to the goodness of God.

When I look at some of the examples of ministry in the Word, I do not see the glamor that we see in the Church today. John the Baptist for example, ministry started in the desert. And His message was harsh and direct. Matt 3:1 John the baptist told people to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This was not a popular message at the time and even though John had many followers, in the end it cost him his life.

I have often wondered how many of those in ministry today would have continued spreading the Gospel of Christ if they knew that it would cost them their lives. I was in Cameroon attending a conference I had been invited to in the capital and during a time of testimony, a young man stood up and told about how he had walked the streets of his village and told people about the love of Jesus. He continued by sharing how he would stand on the street corners and shout it out and how some people responded and others just ignored him. However, on a particular day, a Muslim man, who was a leader in this particular village walked up to him and placed a gun against his head and said, "If you do not stop telling people about this Jesus, I am gong to kill you right here, right now". With tears running down his face while giving his testimony, continued to tell us, he turned to the man and said the following, "Sir, if you kill me today, the last words you are going to hear is that JESUS LOVES YOU". And with that the Muslim man lowered his gun, fell on his knees and wept as he asked this man how he could know this man Jesus that he was talking about and with that gave his life to Christ.

The ministry of Jesus was not pomp and ceremony, it was not all glamor and colorful as many in modern day Church seem to think. In fact, Jesus never even had a place of his own. Matthew 8:20 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man [ “Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for himself.] has no place even to lay his head.” Paul spent a hugh amount of time in prison, in the filth and certainly unpleasant places, but continued to run his race with dignity.

We come along and spend thousands of dollars on our fancy buildings, clothe ourselves with all sorts of materials, and adorn the outward with jewelery and make ourselves look prosperous. we drive our fancy cars and live in our palaces while along the world continues to die around us.

The gospel we preach is no longer the gospel of righteousness. Rather we teach and run after the teachings that puff us up and make us feel good about ourselves. I suppose there is nothing really wrong with making people feel good about themselves, if only the teaching was balanced, but today people come to Christ not because they were taught to die to self, but because they heard that this Jesus can do something wonderful for them. This was one of the main reasons why people followed Jesus. They were after what they could get out of Him, rather than hear what they were to become.

When Jesus came to earth he did not have a big following, in fact people had not even heard about him yet. Although they heard their Messiah was coming, when He stood before them, they did not even know that He was there. John pointed Him out when Jesus came to be baptized and I can just imagine how they looked at Him and thought, "This man here, the Messiah? His ministry on earth was just starting out. He already knew the end before the beginning and had one purpose in mind, and this was to bring glory to the Father. Many who start out in ministry today have grand visions and big dreams about where they would like to see their ministry end up. In the times we live in, some think bigger is always better and some start out with the the right motives, but build their kingdoms around themselves with the wrong perception and understanding and try and mimic the examples of other ministries in town.

We have men in ministry today who have become good managers of their ministries and it seems to work for them, but it does not necessarily have the Fathers blessing. When Paul was in ministry, there were others who opposed him, but also preached the same message and he left them alone. Rather them speak about Jesus than not. However, it did not mean that was God's method either.

Greatness in the kingdom of heaven is not more, in fact it is less. Less of us, more of Him. Jesus said the greatest in heaven must become like a little child. Matthew 18:1-4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

As Jesus starts out, He chooses twelve disciples to follow Him. Twelve men He choose amongst the crowds and begins His ministry in Galilee. In Matthew Chapter four, we see a great multitude follows Him and Jesus fame went out through the area.

In Chapter 5 His preaching takes many by surprise because this is something they have never heard before. He teaches on subjects like:

Fasting to be seen Only by God.
You cannot Serve God and Riches
Not to worry
Not to Judge
Seek first the kingdom of God
Build on the Rock
The narrow way

Jesus continues to heal the sick and perform many miracles and people continue to flock to Him. Matt 8:18

He continues His teaching and tells people that Christ does not come to bring peace, but rather division. And after all the things that he had done is such a short space of time, many started to question Him. John sends out his own disciples to ask him "Are you the Messiah" and the religious leaders of the day started plotting against Him.

Matt 14:13 We see Jesus feeds 5000 followers and He continues to teach about the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 15:32 We see Jesus feed 4000 followers and He continues to teach about the kingdom of heaven.

Then in Matt 16:24 Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and follow Me". And in my opinion we begin to see the turning point in His popularity.

Matt 21:8 A great multitude of people come out and worship Him. People asked who He was and some responded by saying, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee". And within minutes, Jesus clears the temple, the place of worship and rebukes the people. (Not a good way to win souls for the kingdom). But He goes on to teach that out of the mouths of the imperfect, You have perfected praise....

The next thing we see, Jesus authority is questioned and the multitude is no longer following Him. He teachers on the Parable of the Wedding feast Matt 22:1 -14 and the religious leaders continue in their plot to stop Him.

Matt 23 crowds form to listen to His teaching...

Matt 24 Jesus is alone with His twelve disciples...

Matt 26 The religious leaders plot to kill Jesus...

Matt 26:6 There is no longer a crowd of people, just a few...

Matt 26:17 Jesus spends the beginning of passover with His twelve disciples...

Matt 26:37 Jesus instructs the disciples to stay and takes three with Him to pray...

And in His greatest hour of need, even the three He had chosen and fallen asleep and He stood alone!

Matt 27:46 Jesus shouts out from the Cross, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me"...

This is the model for success in the kingdom of heaven 1 - 5000 - 4000 - 400 - 12 - 3 - 1. And the result of Christ's death and resurrection enabled Peter, by the Spirit of God to reach out to the lost and 3000 got saved in one moment. These were not drawn to Christ by the eccentricities of mans imagination, but rather by the power of the Holy Spirit. People got saved on that day, not because the preacher was well dressed and could articulate the word of God in such a manner that people were drawn towards his ministry. People got saved that day because this was the Father's redemptive purpose for man-kind, it was part of His plan.

However, salvation is not the issue, God's plan continues to be that all men would be saved. The issue is we must die to our ambitions, to our plans and to our desires and allow the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead, to establish His kingdom in us. This way, men will be drawn to Christ in us the Hope of Glory and not to "my" ministry. He is the light of the world, and said, I will draw all men to me! All we need to be is an instrument of true worship and God will establish His kingdom using the vessel, the gift that you are to His glory.

The disciples were not popular, they were chained up and persecuted, suffering for Christ in a way we do not see today. We have all the showmanship, but do not understand that the glamor of the show has become to mean more to the Church today than the Master of ceremonies himself.

If you truly want to follow Jesus, then sell everything you have, give it to the poor, lay your life down and follow Jesus. "For truly those who have sort to promote themselves have already received their reward, but you who will lay your life down, your reward is waiting for you in heaven" declares the Lord.

Thank God for those He called. Thank God for His goodness, thank God for His kindness, His long-suffering, but it is time for the TRUTH to be revealed and for the True Church to rise up and become the very thing for which it was destined to become.



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