Jesus tells us he will MAKE us fishers of people...
It seems like people, when faced with what Jesus is calling them to do, treat it like a chore. The basic requirements of following Christ are to Love (God and neighbor), Grow (become like Jesus), and Go (go out and make disciples). You may look at that list and think, "I am so busy, I will have to give up so much to follow Jesus." Have you ever thought, however, that the most important thing of all that you do is to imitate Jesus and to be a disciple? Truly that is the life best lived (shout out to Donnie Cook who shared this idea with me). In Dallas Williard's wonderful treatise on the sermon on the mount, The Divine Conspiracy, Willard addresses this very issue. In it, he discusses two parables (among others): "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that somebody hid in a field, which someone else found and covered up. Full of joy, the finder sold everything and bought that field." And "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold all that he owned and bought it (Matthew 13:44-45 CEB)." Think about what Jesus is saying. The kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God (think of that as the life of Christ that we are individually and communally living into) is like a treasure or a fine pearl. In both cases, when found, the people sold everything and with great joy bought the pearl or the field. Of course, we would do that! If we found something of worth we would do everything possible to get that thing. What Jesus is saying is that following him is more valuable than one of those items. The other side of it is that following Jesus does take sacrifice, selling out to get the pearl/treasure. It means getting up early in the morning and devoting time with God in prayer and scripture. It means committing to worshiping God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit each week in worship. It means finding a life group to be a part of and do life together. It means committing to be financially generous and share the blessings that we have been given to those in need and with the church so it can fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It means finding your gift and serving in some way, making a difference. And it means that we must go into the world and be a witness to this incredible God. That means following Jesus and becoming like him will require sacrifice from us. There are things we are going to have to give up. This idea pervades all aspects of our life! Today I want to focus on growing in our faith because just like the pearl and the treasure we must crave it with the greatest desire in our hearts. The big sacrifice will be time. You will have to give up time and other aspects of your life to commit to spending time with God and others in the community so that you can grow. You will miss out on some stuff that others who follow Jesus get to do. But you know what? That is ok. Remember that Jesus says, "I came that they might have life and live it to the fullest (John 10:10)." The goal is to progress until Jesus is the center of our lives, we do that through daily scripture and prayer and by being in a life group that we can do life with and hold us accountable to the life we are called to live. This is what Williard says, "What this passage in Luke is about is clarity. It is not about misery or about some incredibly dreadful price that one must pay to be Jesus' apprentice. There is no such thing as a dreadful price for the 'pearl' in question. Suffering for him is actually something we rejoice to be counted worthy of (Acts 5:41; Phil 1:29). The point is simply that unless we clearly see the superiority of what we receive as his students over every other thing that might be valued, we cannot succeed in our discipleship to him. We will not be able to do the things required to learn his lessons and move ever deeper into a life that is his kingdom."
If you want the best life you can possibly live then it is time to seek Christ as a precious pearl or treasure. Then the life that comes from that relationship will so change all of your other relationships and existence that you will receive life to the fullest.
At Rockbridge, this is a great week to recommit yourself to a life of growing in your faith, of becoming a disciple of Jesus. On Sunday each of our life groups will have a table for you to sign up. Check them out! If you don't know where you need to be, then join the Disciple's Path class which will be a great place to get your discipleship jump-started!
May you find the treasure of following Jesus Christ and, full of joy, seek it out with all that you have.