Greetings, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has shared many revelations of spiritual truth with me, and I want to share them with you. This morning as we ponder our lives, we seek to understand what it really means to follow Jesus.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
What It Means to Follow Jesus
Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, "That ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John, Chapter 13, Verses 34-35
Brothers and sisters, this morning we examine what it means to truly follow Jesus. But first let us consider this material analogy. A faithful dog will follow his master wherever he goes. He is not deterred by danger or hardship. If anyone should attempt to harm his master, the dog will come to his assistance and will battle the attacker. The faithful dog knows his master and his master knows him. The dog is dependent upon his master to provide his basic needs, such as food and shelter, to take care of him when he is sick, and in return for all of this care, the dog is loyal to his master. And we see a similar analogy that Jesus gives concerning the sheep and shepherd.
Jesus said that if we loved one another as he loved us, the world would know that we are his disciples. In this admonition, Jesus is bypassing the material mind where deceit and insincerity often lie. He goes right to the heart of the matter. The act of loving someone as Jesus loves is an act of the heart. Love is the soul in action. The soul contains the true motive for action, and the soul will never do that which is inconsistent with its motive. If the soul does not really love Jesus, though the mind may say that it does, the soul will always testify by its acts that it does not. Only that which has the whole support of the self will behave consistently. Therefore, our primary method for determining the truth of someone’’s words is to watch what they do and not what they say.
We must remember that the Pharisees professed to be loyal to God, but their loyalty was man-made not spiritually made. When the true light was offered them, they refused to accept it because it was not in keeping with the intellectual concepts that they had developed concerning their supposed relationship with God. And these Pharisees have not been the only ones to profess God with their lips while their hearts are far, far away. It is not the intellectual concept that determines whether we have a true relationship with God but the spiritual attitude we have towards truth.
And so today, we have developed an intellectual concept of believing in Jesus. This concept requires that in exchange for believing in him, we get eternal life. In fact, the intellectual concepts say that this is why Jesus came into the world, to offer us eternal life for believing in him. But the revelation of salvation was not the primary reason for his coming into the world. Jesus came into the world to reveal the heavenly Father to mankind. He took on the form of a human being, the son of man, and revealed to us the nature and character of the heavenly Father. He also revealed that we were the children of the Father and that we could enjoy the same relationship with the heavenly Father as he enjoyed. "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God." Therefore does he give us the injunction to be perfect even as he is perfect, and this perfection is revealed in Jesus, the Son of God.
Jesus came into the world to show us the new and living way to a personal relationship with the Father. He is the way, the truth, and the life of the Father. All who find the Father find Jesus first; and no one comes to the Father except by him. If we reject the living spiritual revelation of the Father in Jesus, there exists no other way to find the Father.
To enjoy the same relationship with the Father that Jesus did when he was in the flesh, we must perfect our relationship with the Father, and this is done through Jesus. Since Jesus revealed that the Father was love, and that we should love one another as he loves us, the perfection of relationship with the heavenly Father is the perfection of love in us. "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." As we follow Jesus, believe with Jesus, this love becomes perfected within us. Not only is it our duty to perfect our relationship with the Father through Jesus, but it is our exalted privilege to do so. It is only by perfecting our relationship with him that we become truly morally and spiritually free. We can only escape the evils of the flesh by becoming like Jesus, by following Jesus. Salvation is inherent in being children of the Father. Since the Father is eternal, if we accept our divine sonship, we become eternal also.
To follow Jesus is the wholehearted dedication and consecration to doing the Father’’s will, to loving one another as Jesus loves us. When this relationship with the Father is perfected as demonstrated by Jesus, when it comes to choosing good over evil, truth over error, we will always choose good over evil, truth over error. When confronted with unrighteous choices, we will always, declare, "not my will but your will be done." Such a consistent and righteous attitude bespeaks of the perfection of the relationship with the Father through his Son, Jesus. Concerning sin, the conscious willful violation of the law of love, such an unrighteous attitude is inconsistent with divine sonship; in fact, such acts of disloyalty blinds the soul to the realities of the spiritual kingdom, thereby ejecting such unfaithful souls from the spiritual kingdom until such time as they repent and seek forgiveness.
Is it possible to achieve such an exalted state while still living in the flesh? Jesus made this achievement as a human being; having done so, he gives us his spirit, the Spirit of Truth, to guide and empower us to do the same. Brothers and sisters, it is not the failure of the head that prevents us from perfecting our relationship with the Father, but a failure of the heart. Given the desire to perfect the relationship with the Father, the power soon follows. What the true son desires, and the Father wills, is. If we are hungry for truth and thirsty for righteousness, there is no force that can prevents us from eating the bread of righteousness and drinking the waters of truth, which signifies the perfection of our relationship with the Father. When this relationship is perfected, the Father manifests himself through us. As long as we eat the bread of righteousness and drink the waters of truth, we will continue to remain in a perfected relationship with the Father.
Our problem of achieving and maintaining this perfected relationship may be due to a lack of dedication and supreme loyalty to doing the Father’’s will, loving our brothers and sisters as Jesus loves us. This is why it may be called failure of the heart and not of the head. While intellectual knowledge may be required to understand all of the philosophical ramifications of loving as Jesus loves, no such barrier exists from enjoying the perfected relationship within our souls. There can be no material or intellectual barrier to prevent us from perfecting our relationship with the Father if this is our wholehearted desire. If we really believe in Jesus, then we will follow him by loving one another even as he loves us, even as the sheep follow the shepherd and the dog faithfully follows his master. And then we shall enjoy the fullness of the perfected relationship with the Father.
This concludes today's message on understanding what it means to follow Jesus. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry