I wonder when you think back on your life what were the things you worked hardest for? What were the things you didn’t give up on, the things you pursued and fought for, the things you knew you had to accomplish and follow after? The more I read God's word and follow Jesus I see clearly that this life of discipleship to Christ is one that demands me to be a passionate follower. Someone who is all in, fully committed, passionately pursuing growth and deeper intimacy with my Saviour.
There are a great many things we might follow after in this life, yet many of them might have no eternal consequence.
Whilst we may be passionate about a great many things I wonder do we passionately follow after Jesus? Is He our primary delight? Our source of strength and joy, our cause for rejoicing, the root of our peace and calm, our reason and purpose in whom we glorify. If He is all these things then may I implore you to let nothing hinder the passionate following Jesus would call us to have.
I wonder have you ever come across this verse in Matthew? Matthew 11:12 reads, "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force". Not an immediately obvious or easy verse to understand but one, when understood, that helps us to see what kind of following Jesus is asking of us.
One preacher I listened to recently said of this verse it could be understood as, "The Kingdom presses ahead relentlessly and only the relentless press their way into it". Matthew Henry likens this to “the violence of an army taking a city by storm, or of a crowd bursting into a house, so the violent take it by force".
When we look upon ourselves who might passionately pursue Christ, one could think we have no right to pursue such love as this. Yet seeing God's love, mercy and grace extended to us through the cross we jump over every obstacle, kick down every door and vault every hurdle which would hold us back.
Henry goes on to say, “We are relentless in our following of Jesus, we have a strength, and vigour, and earnestness of desire and endeavour, a fervency and zeal. Self must be denied, the bent and bias, the frame and temper, of the mind must be altered; there are hard sufferings to be undergone, a force to be put upon the corrupt nature; we must run, and wrestle, and fight, and be in an agony, and all little enough to win such a prize, and to get over such opposition from without and from within".
So our hearts are made new, our desires realigned, our passions altered, our direction changed. We become followers of Jesus Christ. He becomes our everything. He becomes our passion, joy and delight.
This is what it is to have relationship with Jesus, to have faith in His life, death and resurrection. It is not merely a set of beliefs, but a total life transformed, empowered by the Holy Spirit. This is what it is to passionately follow Jesus and I pray we would all endeavour to embrace this life we have been called to with our everything.