Most of you know that I became a follower of Jesus as a 19 year old college student. My life changed, and has continued to change, since that evening on March 2, 1982 when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. My walk as a follower has not been perfect, but the characterization of my life is that of progress, even if it has not been as consistent as I would like. There have been seasons when my heart has grown cold, but they have never lasted long before Jesus intervenes to get me back on track. So how about you?
One of the aspects of serving Jesus as a Pastor that I struggle to understand is people that profess to know Jesus but demonstrate no desire to live as a follower. They seem to do good things and talk the Jesus talk but there just is no passion in their life. I never hear how the Lord has been working in their life, or a spiritual lesson learned. In fact, there is nothing spiritual. It leaves me to wonder if they really have a relationship with Jesus?
Jesus said, ““Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15–16a) The bottom line as mentioned in the last sentence is that our actions reveal our spiritual nature or lack of it. When I study the Bible I see evidence of changed lives. One instance is revealed in a passing comment in the account of Mary breaking the alabaster flask of expensive ointment over Jesus. Just prior to the account of Mary’s worship of Jesus we read, “Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,” (Matthew 26:6) This is a very interesting statement because Jews were not allowed to associate with those with leprosy. Yet, here we learn of a gathering at the home of Simon the leper. The only conclusion that we can draw is that Simon was healed by Jesus of the incurable disease of leprosy. Let me put this another way. Jesus changed Simon physically by healing him. Yet the text also reflects that Simon was changed spiritually as well. The life change resulting from a relationship with Jesus resulted in his hospitality to Jesus and, from the context of the passage, with others.
While I don’t want to stretch this inference too far, I do want to bring to our attention to what Paul reminds us of, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The genuine follower of Jesus is changed into a new person. The change in my life as a 19 year old was evident immediately and continues to be to this day. There has been a change of focus in my life. There has been a change of desire too. My relationship with Jesus has made me into the person that I have become today. I am not perfect but I strongly desire to be a committed follower of Him in every area of my life.
So, what about you? Do you really know Christ or is it something that you have just grown up with? Do you have doubts about whether you would spend eternity with Him? Or do you have the assurance that comes from genuinely knowing Him? It is my desire that you would come to know what I have found and continue to discover in my relationship with Jesus Christ.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson