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. This was someone who once nonchalantly mentioned he was getting married in the middle of a conversation about traffic. “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 was familiar to me. He preaches 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 enter the Kingdom! 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 had 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 often 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 accepters.
Somewhere today, a singer 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 smart phones, 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.
Anyone close to my age remembers “dead-heads” who left jobs and family to follow their favorite rock band across the country and around the world. They would camp out in the cold and rain in hope of getting close enough to the stadiums and arenas to hear their favorite songs.
Jesus has a lot more followers than the Grateful Dead and any new young singer combined. And He wants more! God wants us all to come and know His truth (1 Tim 2:4). What are we willing to do to get closer to Him? He wants us to pick up our cross and follow him into the Kingdom. (Matt 16:24). And that is the only way to realize the rewards of heaven (John 14:6). Men must believe and obey (Mark 16:16). Follow Jesus’ example and lessons as given to us in the Bible. Love and care for one another. 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 what following Jesus entails. 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 smart phone’s Bible app with the reading plan and study guide. He also showed me numerous tweets from various gospel, faith and evangelical 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. And the Bible still outsells every book listed on the NY Times Best Seller lists combined!
More and more folks are being exposed to God’s word every day thanks to the miracles of television, the internet, smart phones and the biggest miracle of all, The Bible.
It is so easy today to learn about and follow Jesus. 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 160 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.