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To Know And Follow God

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One of the mistakes we make in thinking about our commitment to our relationship with God is in how we define “relationship”.  Often we would love to define the essence of this relationship in terms of how we:

▪    “feel” about God and his kindness toward us

▪    Intellectually understand God, Scripture, theology

▪    Believe ourselves to have great “spirituality”

But God has a much deeper measure of “relationship”.  God seems to find relationship in two broad areas – knowing him & following him.  These two things are, in a very real way, inseparable.  If we know God (see him for who he is) we cannot help but be changed – this change is the “following” part.  The knowing, however, must come first because we cannot truly follow unless we have been changed (if our sinful nature is left in tact we cannot truly follow).  The reason our following God’s heart is so pleasing to God is that if we follow him it means we know him.

All those who would follow Jesus are in a cosmic war.  It is a battle where Satan would convince us that we can separate the knowing from the doing.  Satan would like us to think the reality of God in us is defined by how we feel about God, or by our sincerity, or by our “spirituality”.

We cannot remove action, following, obedience from our relationship with God.

It is easy to see this knowing / following dynamic in Scripture.

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? – Luke 6:46

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' – Matt 7:21-22

If our knowledge of Jesus does not change us such that we truly follow (obey) we have never known him (or as we see in Matthew, Jesus has never known us).

It is VERY difficult for us to know and follow a God that in so many ways is unlike us.  God is spirit (no human form), knows everything, exists everywhere, is completely sovereign (rules every event and action).  How can we know such a reality?

I have said this all so that we might examine the person of Jesus in, what might be for some, a new way.  You see Jesus came to earth to create our connection to God.  He came so we could know and follow.

For as long as people have been studying Jesus they have struggled with a great truth – Jesus was fully God and fully man in one person, and will be so forever.

While orthodox Christianity considers this God/man reality true, all do not see it the same way.  And this has an impact on how we live.  Many, from a practical perspective, understand Jesus to be somewhere on a continuum with humanity on one extreme and deity on the other.  Those who see Jesus as primarily human will often stress the need to follow Jesus into social action.  With this perspective the gospel itself often become a call to follow Jesus’ example in his service for humanity.

On the other end of the spectrum we see those who view Jesus as predominantly God.  These folks often focus on Jesus’ ability to save us from our sins.  They do a great job in holding Jesus high in worship and may actually “bristle” when we spend too much time on his humanity – they fear we will lose the focus on Jesus’ diety.

In the end, understanding Jesus on a continuum is wrong – it’s unbiblical.  Seeing Jesus this way moves us to say he is 50% human and 50% divine (or some other “split”).  That is not Jesus – he is all man and all God.

Jesus as God

As we understand Jesus to be God we can worship him as:

§    The One that has existed forever

§    The One who has created everything that exists

§    The One who has unlimited resources to meet our needs

§    The One who can forgive our sins

§    The One who is with us now

§    The One who is worthy to receive power and glory and honor forever

§    The One who will assuredly come again, like a lion, to judge the living and the dead

Jesus as a man

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered… – Hebrews 5:7-8

As we know Jesus to be human, like us, we can follow him.  We can hold his hand and he can show us what it means to follow God.

§    In his weakness he is like us:

o   He matured in wisdom (Luke 2:40)

o   He became exhausted (John 4:6)

o   He became thirsty (John 19:28)

o   He become hungry (Matt 4:2)

o   He had the full range of emotions

§  he experienced deep, deep anxiety (Matt 26: 38; John 12:27, 13:21)

§  he prayed with loud cries & tears (Heb 5:7)

o   He could be killed physically

§    In his birth Jesus shows us how to be incarnational – becoming like those we are called to serve

§    When he chose to impoverish himself we can see what sacrificial love looks like (2 Cor 8:9)

§    In his temptation as a man we know Jesus has experienced what we experience (Heb 4:15) and he can show us how to depend on God’s provision above all

§    In his compassion for those around him Jesus shows us how to be a friend

§    In his relationships Jesus shows us how the poor, sick, and sinful are the targets of God’s mercy

§    In his earthly words he told us who he wants to be for us

§  Like food satisfies hunger

§  Like water quenches thirst 

§    In his pure relationship with God the Father Jesus shows us how religion is often a godless slave master

§    In betrayal Jesus shows us how vengeance is not the right action

-   When Peter betrayed Jesus he left it in God’s care – God accomplished much through Peter.

-   When Judas betrayed Jesus he left it in God’s care – God accomplished much through Judas.

§    In his suffering Jesus shows us how to commit to our calling

§    In his death Jesus shows us the amazing possibilities of obedience (walking by faith) (Phil 2:8)

How has God been calling you to follow him?  The life Jesus lived was to a great extent given so we would have an example to follow.  THAT’S WHY WE ARE CALLED JESUS’ DISCIPLES.

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