Discipleship is not the boring and joyless burden of bible study, prayer and attending church services until we are called home to heaven and fighting the temptation to find happiness and pleasure in the ways of the world. It is the exciting journey of being in communication with our Heavenly Father - it is the abundant life filled with unspeakable joy and the peace that is beyond human understanding.
The good news of salvation is not only that we will go to heaven when we die but that we can live in heaven here on earth even when it feels like it is hell at times. Jesus died a horrible death on the cross to give us the power to overcome our fear of death and suffering. This is graphically described to us in Hebrews 11:34-40
“But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.”
We owe a huge debt to these heroes of faith for showing us that the gospel is not about having a good life of happiness health and wealth here on earth but about bringing God’s Kingdom of Love, Joy and Peace from heaven to earth. To follow Jesus is to learn to live fully in God’s presence trusting that the God who gives us life is in the midst of all that life throws at us. We are called to be living witnesses of God’s power and love by putting all our trust in Christ.1
But all of us are imperfect creatures who are being made perfect in love. Each of us is empowered to live in the presence of God by the power of the Holy Spirit through our faith in Jesus Christ. And through our example of faith we are to lead others to be similarly empowered.
Each of us is the greatest miracle for we are the children of God with the power of love to heal the world. The problem is that we tend to be the mirrors of one another’s fears, anger, greed, lust and doubts instead of being the windows of God’s love, mercy and grace. We are comfortable to remain children of God instead of growing up to become soldiers of Christ in the spiritual warfare raging around us.
Let us encourage one another to develop the full potential of God’s love in each of us and to refrain from criticizing, comparing or competing with one another. There cannot be any sibling rivalry in God’s family. Each one of us has a special and unique relationship with our Heavenly Father. We will all experience God’s love differently and in different ways. Let us cultivate the joy of sharing stories of our adventure of faith as we follow Jesus Christ our Shepherd of Love.
1. Matthew Charlton, Upper Room Reflections, 22nd May 2012