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Summary: Too many believers are solely a follower and not a disciple of Christ, they do not build and strengthen the church. Oh yes, they come to church but there participation in the works of the church is at a distance.

Last week we learned that all believers of Jesus Christ are joined as one Body in Christ through the Spirit of God. We learned that each member is vital to the church and thus every member has a responsibility to the church in carrying out Jesus continuous work of redemption. As I read Saturday’s devotions in Our Daily Bread, it reminded me of our significance as one Body in Christ. Listen briefly:

All Christians have been gifted

By grace from God above,

Equipped to build and strengthen

The church in faith and love. —Fitzhugh

Unfortunately, because too many believers are solely a follower and not a disciple of Christ, they do not build and strengthen the church. Oh yes, they come to church but there participation in the works of the church is at a distance.

So today, I’d like to address the subject: “Following at a Distance.” In reading our text, it amazed me how at one minute everybody was loving on Jesus then at the next minute even those closest to Him changed up on Him. You know how that it don’t you?

• What about that friend whom you entrusted now has betrayed you! Or,

• What about that supervisor whom you confided in now uses that information against you!

What about Peter who closed up his business to follow Jesus? Peter, who at one minute, cut the man’s ear off because of the man’s behavior towards Christ. Shortly afterwards, Peter now denies even knowing Christ. I’m talking about Peter who was a disciple of Christ, part of Christ inner circle of closet friends.

I surmise that then there is a difference between a disciple and a follower. A follower is one that imitates another’s’ opinions and actions as long as he/she is in agreement with that leader. While a disciple is one who accepts and assists in spreading the Doctrines of Jesus Christ at all cost. So then, being a follower is conditional while being a disciple is unconditional. In other words, a follower isn’t dedicated while a disciple is not only dedicated but totally committed to the cause of Christ. Also, a follower can be saved but not sanctified but a disciple is saved and sanctified.

Look at the text:

53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Oh yes, Peter was saved but he was in a season of failure when he denied knowing Christ. Remember the Scripture says, “If you be ashamed of me before me then I’ll be ashamed of you before my Father in Heaven.” Peter, a saved follower disowned Christ and subject himself to risking his eternal relationship with Christ and God in Heaven. See, a saved follower only wants to inherit eternal life but a saved disciple will inherit eternal life and rewards from God in heaven. One author stated, “Salvation is guaranteed, but not discipleship, because discipleship makes radical demands that some people are not ready to meet. There are Christians who are truly saved but do not continue on the road of discipleship.” Oh yes, you can be a Christian and bear no fruit and your salvation is not jeopardized. However, I want more than just to see the face of God. I want to receive my divine rewards for the fruit that I bear while here on earth. Jesus said, “You will know my disciples by the fruit that they bear.”

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