From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 23 – Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ – Some introductory points
However, for a fuller picture of what Jesus is like, look at these descriptions of Him in the book of Daniel and then in the book of Revelation. These show us a glimpse of Him as He really is. This is how we will one day know Him, when He is seen in His full glory. Once these facts become real to us we will be better able to follow Jesus in the way we should:
13In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.Daniel 7:13-14(NIV)
11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron sceptre.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.Revelation 19:11-16 (NIV)
However, now let us go to the other end of the spectrum and consider this quite different description of Jesus Christ. This next passage reveals how far He humbled Himself when He came to the earth for the first time as a man. He put aside all of His glory and majesty. Instead, He went to the very lowest depths in order to save us. It was that willingness on His part to humble Himself that led to God exalting Him to the very highest place:
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus Christ commands us to spend the rest of our lives following Him, doing His will, and serving Him with complete loyalty. That is a huge privilege, with many benefits, but it is also a duty. He wants us to lay aside every other competing aim or goal and put Him first above everything else:
24Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?Matthew 16:24-26 (NASB)
3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.1 John 2:3-6 (NASB)
But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”1 Kings 8:61(NIV)
So, being a disciple means putting Him above our family, job, children, wife, country, money and possessions. He must take first place and He must be Lord of your life. He does not put that to you as a suggestion. It is an emphatic command, which He is fully entitled to make. That is what discipleship is really about. It means beginning to see Him as He truly is and to follow Him with total devotion in a way that reflects who He is.
This is a far cry from what much of modern Western Christianity is about. Most of it is dismally lukewarm and half-hearted. There is little or no concept of Jesus Christ being our King. If we are not wholehearted about obeying Jesus, then we will inevitably end up doing wrong and displeasing Him. That is how it works. If we set our hearts to obey and follow Jesus we will grow. If not, we will degenerate:
He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.2 Chronicles 12:14 (NIV)
People often say words to the effect of “By all means practice your religion, but don’t take it too seriously”. It has become a cultural expectation in Britain that people should keep quiet and be “moderate” and private about their faith and not go over the top about it or to discuss it openly. We are expected to keep our relationship with Jesus strictly to ourselves, as if He was something to be ashamed of. Above all, we are frowned upon if we get excited about Him. These are pressures which British culture puts on us. But that attitude is not what Jesus wants. He wants us to be passionate about Him and totally loyal.