If you feel like following Jesus is impossibly hard, that’s not a bad thing because without Him, it is! Following Jesus was never meant to be lived apart from Him. It wasn’t even meant to be lived “for” Him but rather with Him. Attempting to follow Jesus apart from Him will wear you down. Eventually, you will drop out and quit. But when we abide in Jesus and stay connected to the Vine, we receive His grace and empowerment to walk with Him. Following Jesus then moves from burden to joy, from striving to resting, and from powerlessness to empowerment. I know because I’ve tried it both ways!
Is abiding simply obeying His commands? Yes and no. Thing is, without a vibrant, dynamic, life-giving relationship, cultivated by spending time together (another aspect of abiding), His commands can easily become rules to be followed rather than loving boundaries that bring life and fulfillment.
But when the vertical exchange of receiving His love and loving Him back happens, 1 John 5:3 kicks into action,
Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3 NLT)
Jesus is our example
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt. 11:28-29 NIV)
That doesn’t sound hard to me. It sounds to me like Jesus wants us to exchange our burdens for His rest. What a deal! Which part of “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” sounds hard?
Here’s another one:
So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. (John 5:19 NLT)
As followers of His, we are being molded and conformed into the image of Christ. He is our example. We seek to emulate Him with His help! So I ask you, Are you doing “only what you see the Father doing?” Do you know what He is doing in you and around you? How do you find out what He is doing? Jesus was constantly discerning what the Father was doing through prayer and minute-by-minute relationship. It’s called abiding. Every moment, Jesus saw what the Father was doing and did likewise.
And before you write it off by saying, “Yeah, but that was Jesus,” consider this statement made by Jesus Himself:
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! (John 14:12 NLT)
He didn’t say this in order to create more pressure for us. I want to be more like Jesus, and I know you do too.
Do what Jesus is doing…
Start by taking some time to be with Jesus and ask Him the question, “What are you doing right now? How about today? What are you doing in me and around me? How can I join you, Jesus? Then wait for Him to answer. When He does, ask Him to empower you, and obey! He may speak through a Scripture, a picture, or a whisper. Here are some examples of what God could say:
- I am molding you into My image
- Love your wife by doing the dishes
- Encourage Sue at work today
- Give your daughter an extra long hug
- I am encouraging you today and giving you peace
- Sit with Me an extra five minutes this morning
- Start reading your Bible every day
- Forgive Jim for what He did to you
- Reach out to Denise and ask her forgiveness for offending her
- Propose this idea to your boss…
The possibilities are endless, and here’s the promise. Whatever God asks of you, He will give you the power to do it.
Could following Jesus really be that simple? Yes and no. It may not always be easy to do what He asks, but know this – He will always give you the power to do it! So stop putting pressure on yourself to do what He is not doing. It’s not your responsibility to save the world. It’s your responsibility to walk with Him and obey.
When you are faced with a choice or a decision, put it to prayer and ask Him what He’s doing. Is He asking you to step into it? Then do it and you will have the power to go with it! If not, dismiss it and move on. And if He doesn’t give you an immediate answer then wait. If a decision must be made, do your best to make decision using Biblical wisdom, prayer, and wise counsel.
So take the pressure off yourself. Discard the burdens. Find out what He is doing, and only do what you see Him doing. Go ahead, try it!
PS – Here is a message I shared after a year of practicing John 5:19. I apologize in advance for the poor audio quality. We had technical difficulties that day=). A John 5:19 Moment.