Being a Disciple of Jesus
Are you annoyed at your co-worker? Or upset at a family member who said something hurtful and still hasn’t apologized? It’s hard to feel love toward someone who has hurt us. But unless you truly love God, you can’t love anyone.
Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Luke 19:1-8
Zacchaeus was a liar, cheater, greedy, had low self-esteem and anger issues because of his height; probably power-hungry since he worked for the Romans, the ruling government against his own people. But for all the money and power he acquired, he lacked something and he was not satisfied with his life. He heard stories of Jesus, and he wanted to learn more about the God that Jesus was preaching. His understanding of God had been so disappointing so far; he had lived his life unworthy of God’s people. But there was a desire in his heart for God and to live a righteous life.
When the crowd pressed around Jesus and wouldn’t budge for Zacchaeus, he ran ahead to climb a tree. How undignified. Could you picture a 3 piece-suit executive climbing a tree? But Zacchaeus had such a desire to see Jesus, he didn’t care about his reputation. All he wanted to do was see Jesus and figure out why Jesus was so different from the priests and rabbis.
To his shock, Jesus stops under the tree and calls him by name. Jesus knew who Zacchaeus was and wanted to spend time with him. Realizing only the Son of God would know him by name, seeing a face of love and forgiveness looking back at him, Zacchaeus admits to cheating and makes restitutions. His desire for God in his life—His acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God and knowing that God loves him, a sinner—moves his heart so that he can’t help but love God back. His love for God results in his desire to do right and he declares his intentions, knowing that any future deceitfulness on his part will bring the scorn of the townspeople even more upon him. He desires a change in his life and he promptly promises it.
Accepting Jesus, Means Changing Your Life
When you have Jesus in your life, you cannot stay the same. You cannot stay bitter, sad, angry, etc. Your declaration as a follower of Christ, can only be lived, not spoken of. You can say you are a Christian, but if your life does not reflect it, then you are a liar. "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." 1 John 4:20-21
Yes, Jesus loves you as you are (But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8), but if you love Jesus, your life must show it. "He that saith he [Jesus] abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he [Jesus] walked." 1 John 2:6
Not Your Works, But the Spirit's
Outwardly, you may do all the right things. Be gentle, be good, be loving; all outwardly—but unless these are prompted by the Spirit in your innermost being—these are works, and dead. "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity [love], I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2 "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Galatians 4:6 "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." Galatians 5:5 "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." John 3:8 "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Romans 8:13-14
So you may want to be a Disciple but you're still unable to feel the peace and love that God promises. That's when you need to pray for the Holy Spirit. Don't pray that God will change the person who annoys you, or hurts you; but pray for you to change. This is how the Spirit will help you to truly love. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22, 23 When you change, your interaction with the other person will change; and surprisingly, you may find that God used you to change that other person.
No Law, But Pleasure
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:" Hebrews 8:10 "And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul," Deuteronomy 10:12 "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:8
When you accept God into your life, His Spirit changes your heart. "We love him, because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19 Your heart responds to His love and you desire to please Him. All His desires becomes your pleasure, and no longer a “rule” or works. He writes His character of love into your heart, and you love the way He wants you to be.
You must accept His Spirit into your life, daily. You must surrender your own selfish desires and pray to Him to know His desires. Discipleship is not a one day a week profession, it is a life-long commitment.
"No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:12-18
- A Relationship with Jesus, Results in Growth
Being a follower of Christ, is about wanting something better than what we have.