Nov 16,2023
Following Christ and Fulfilling Our Call, Part 2

Brett Seals (DMin) is the Youth and Discipleship Director for the Church of God in Eastern North Carolina

Describing His death and the suffering He would soon endure, Jesus was preparing His followers to ready themselves for His departure. The disciples would soon have to make up their minds about who He was and what He had come to accomplish. Accompanying Jesus would demand a decision, and it meant denying themselves. Pursuing a relationship with God equated to handing over their thoughts and desires. Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23 NLT). Each of them had to abandon selfishness and seek the mind of their Savior.  With a willingness to lay their lives on the line, following Jesus meant His way of thinking would always be best. This kind of personal discipleship would be a daily determination and required conforming to His plan and His purpose.

Given the condition of our world, we must make up our minds concerning the Son of God and His imminent return. Following Jesus is an individual choice we make each day. We are surrounded by opportunities and endless possibilities to personally grow and see God’s kingdom progress. Our ideas often get in the way and send us on unwanted detours. What we think and what we want must be buried and committed to Christ. Seeking God’s face and forsaking our intentions is the beginning of the abundant life we have in Christ. There has to be a willingness to carry His conviction and die for His cause. Personal discipleship is an intellectual connection to Christ, requiring we tap into His thoughts before taking things into our own hands.

As Jesus began His ministry and set out to accomplish all His Father intended, He stopped by the Sea of Galilee to build the team His Father had selected. He noticed two brothers who were working diligently to keep their operation afloat and feed their families.  Peter and Andrew were carrying on a family tradition in the fishing business, and by all accounts were running somewhat of a successful operation. Given their productivity and God’s preference, Jesus reached out and invited them on the journey of a lifetime. “Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!’ And they left their nets at once and followed him” (Matthew 4:19-20 NLT). The invitation was to walk with Him and work with Him in building His Father’s church and advancing His Kingdom. This opportunity would require all their ability and meant leaving their boats to carry out His business. They had been fishing for financial gain, but now they would be casting their nets for Christ. 

Following Christ requires a physical connection and a tangible contribution. Our love for God and dedication to His objectives are easily recognized as we tend His sheep and cultivate His church. Personal discipleship is understanding our obligation to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. Comfort and complacency are ingredients that will hinder our relationship and hamper the purpose God has placed on our lives. As the Church of God, we are a movement that is pushing forward and pressing into new territory. As ministers, we have a mandate to complete our mission and make Christ known to all the world. Giving God our time, our talent, and our treasure is necessary in recognizing the work God is performing and realizing our worth in His eyes.  

Surveying all God has done and realizing the harvest is still plentiful, as leaders we must understand that a door is wide open, and our churches need to be filled. Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity.”  We have been given the great responsibility to disciple students that are changing this world and advancing God’s Kingdom. With this calling our obligation is to commit ourselves first to Christ and then allow Him to reach through us into others. God is seeking leaders who are dressed and ready for His service. Our preparation is offering all we are and all we have daily to the author and finisher of our faith. He needs our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength in order to reveal His love, His plan, His thoughts, and His power. Our personal relationship with Christ is paramount in discovering and doing all God has in store for His people. Discipleship is our way of life; it is how we follow Christ, and it is how we fulfill our call.