We are told over and over, "You can be anything you want to be. You can do anything you put your mind to." But, honestly, that's not quite the case. I get it. It's positive thinking and motivation to take risks, move beyond perceived barriers, so we're not held back by what keeps others from excelling.
That's fine, but when a person makes a commitment to do something, there are inherent limitations. The obvious is that a commitment is a choice to do (or not do) one thing over a host of other things. It could be to quit smoking, go on a diet, get into a fitness routine, or something else beneficial.
But relational commitments like marriage, parenthood, even friendships are different. These commitments involve loyalty, even sacrifice of one's own desires or preferences. True commitment also involves risks, moving beyond limitations, and not going along with the crowd.
Choosing to follow Jesus is a commitment
When I was a young believer, I remember hearing something about commitment to Jesus that stuck in my mind and heart. It went something like this— "When you make a commitment to follow Jesus as your Lord, it's like signing a blank contract. The Lord fills in the details as you follow Him daily."
[bctt tweet="Making a commitment to follow Jesus is like signing a blank contract"]
This is a pretty counter cultural thought, especially today, as it was then also (the early 70's).
We are steeped in the pursuit of self-fulfillment, with a host of self-serving options in life. But an open-ended commitment to self-denial (Matt 16:24), that's always been counter-cultural, or at least, counter to what comes natural to our selfish nature.
What is your response to Jesus' call on your life? For me, it's summed up in the encounter Peter has with Jesus when He restores Peter after his three denials of Jesus (in John 21:15-22).
"...what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:22)
Do you love Me?
Jesus appeared to His followers several times after His resurrection. On one occasion, Jesus surprises them with a breakfast of fish and bread on the beach of the Sea of Tiberias. They had fished all night but caught nothing. Jesus suggests they throw their net out "on the right side" of the boat, which resulted in a miraculous catch.
On the beach after breakfast, Jesus proceeds to ask Peter if he loved Jesus more than the others. Not just once, but three times. Each time Jesus tells Peter what He wants him to do—feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep. Peter was grieved that Jesus asked him this three times (John 21:15-17).
Why would Jesus ask Peter the same question three separate times, giving him essentially the same instruction three times?
The obvious reason is that Jesus was restoring Peter after his three denials of the Lord. Peter claimed all the others might deny Jesus, but not him! And yet, Peter did deny Jesus three times (Luke 22:54-62). But there's more to the story.
It begins when Peter, the one whom Jesus chose as a leader, told the other disciples he was going out to fish, and they followed his lead (John 21:1-3). What had Jesus told Peter when He called him to follow? “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” (Luke 5:10 NKJV)
Peter returned to his former livelihood. He lost sight of the Lord's call upon his life. This happens to all of us at some point along the path of following Jesus. We tend to lose sight of God's calling on our lives when things don't go as we expect.
[bctt tweet="We tend to lose sight of God's calling on our lives when things don't go as we expect."]
You follow Me
Jesus goes on to tell Peter the way he will die later in life, then says "Follow Me." What is Peter's response? He questions Jesus about another disciple, wondering what will happen to him.
I've heard many teachers mock Peter's actions and reactions throughout the gospel, including this one. Truth is, we're all just like Peter. When the Lord shows us the path He has for us, we want to know if everyone else has to do the same.
Jesus' response to Peter is pointed— "...what is that to you? You follow me!”
Our path in following Jesus is going to be different from that of others. Each of us is unique, and so is our relationship with Jesus.
[bctt tweet="Our path in following Jesus is going to be different from that of others"]
How do you react when others are blessed in a way that you want to be blessed, but aren't?
When you go through various struggles and tests in life, do you question God why it's happening?