Are you following Jesus? What are your expectations? We all need encouragement but is there something more — something unexpected and profound?
I have seen many people begin to follow only to stumble and fall. Some were able to get up, others simply failed. What are some of the keys that they were missing? There are words that are important to every follower. These words help us with our lifestyle and our expectations — expectations are important for our success as followers.
A Word About Expectations
Many people start following Jesus believing that all their problems are now solved and that all will be well from now on. Sadly, when the realities of life begin to hit them, they feel God has failed them. But when our expectations are healthy, we will grow in all circumstances — even difficult ones.
Our expectations must be rooted in the truth of God’s word. When we have realistic expectations, we won’t be caught off guard when difficulties and challenges arise. Some of those realities and expectations are included in the list below.
These seven words may be unexpected or even uncomfortable but they are essential words we need for spiritual growth.
- Repent — Repentance is the door into our life as followers. To repent means to change our minds. In it’s most complete sense, it means we will turn from our own way to following Jesus. It means that we realize our way is not very good and his way is best. So we change our minds and change our direction.
- Rebuke — No one likes a rebuke but we all need one once in a while. To be rebuked means to be confronted with strong disapproval. It means we have done something seriously wrong. But, if we are serious about following Jesus, we need that rebuke if we really mess up! When God rebukes us it is for our own good. So, we need to listen and heed that rebuke!
- Sin — Sin is the thing that keeps us from following Jesus. Simply, sin is our tendency to do everything to please ourselves. It is selfish and prideful. When we embrace sin we become nearsighted and exhibit very poor judgment. It consistently gets us into trouble! Sin causes a big mess in our lives. We repent of sin, meaning we turn away from it, in order to follow Jesus.
- Suffering — Jesus promised that we would suffer because of him. Every follower knows a little about suffering. Many people don’t know what it means to follow Jesus and they tend to ridicule followers. There is strong opposition in the spiritual realm to followers of Jesus. The good news is that Jesus will go with us and strengthen us through the suffering.
- Correction — Okay, this is easier than rebuke but we still don’t really like it, do we? But we should embrace correction as a means to become better followers and more like Jesus! The better we get at following Jesus, the more we appreciate correction because correction helps us follow even better.
- Perseverance — The only time you need to persevere is when things are difficult! Since we don’t like hard times, we don’t really like the concept of perseverance. We follow through the hard times staying steady with the help of Jesus’ leadership. You can persevere by keeping your focus squarely on him. God promised strength for every trial! Perseverance yields great rewards in building a godly character.
- repent — I know I said this already but I want to emphasize the small ‘r’ repentance. When we repent as in the first point above it is that big decisive change of mind and direction from following me to following Jesus. But this repent is the daily attitude that we are willing to change our minds anytime we learn something new — a new attitude, a new revelation about God, a new way to serve, a new way to follow. As followers of Jesus we are teachable so we embrace repentance!
What are your expectations as you follow Jesus? Are they realistic? How do these seven words fit into those expectations?
I challenge you to embrace these seven words and to contemplate how they need to fit into your life today.
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