Contributed by Andy Grossman on Oct 8, 2013 (message contributor)
Summary: Shows how the power of the will determines our destiny
October 6, 2013
“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
Six weeks ago or so I began a series of sermons on following Jesus. I didn’t know it would develop into a series – but it did. I became intrigued just thinking about our Awesome God, the Creator of all that is, picking us out of humanity and inviting us to follow Him. I mentioned last week that “many are called but few are chosen”. (Matt. 22:14) Everyone in the whole world is called to follow. Everyone is invited. God is not willing that any should perish. But the fact of the matter is that few find their way on that “Highway of Holiness” – because it is straight and narrow and hard to get on. Isaiah said,
“And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 35:8-10
Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”
I read a Gallop poll that was taken recently that said that 90% of Americans believe in God. When I was a kid and the question was asked, “Do you believe in God?” 98% responded that they did. So the figure is down a little – but still 9 out of 10 people believing in God is pretty impressive. Now, that poll didn’t say what God or what kind of God – just if you believed in God.
But if you ask the question of how many in America call themselves Christians then the answer is a little lower – but it is still pretty impressive. Most statistics say that over 3/4th of America’s call themselves Christians. That’s a lot. It doesn’t quite jive with what Jesus said. Why is that?
I think it is because Jesus had a little narrower definition of who His follower is than we do. Many people today define the ‘saved’; those going to heaven as anyone who believes in Jesus. Let’s look at how Jesus defines His disciple.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:21
“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” John 14:23-24
That puts a little different light on things, doesn’t it? Look at the characteristics Jesus gave – “they listen to My voice; they follow me; they love one another; they obey My teaching.” That narrows things down a bit, doesn’t it? (CHART)
The media report that about 40% go to church on any given Sunday – but actually that figure reflects those who CLAIM to be regular church attenders. The figure is actually closer to 25%. Then if you further sift out those who fit Jesus’ description of a true follower – you have a very small band of disciples. Jesus words are true, “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”