Jesus said and did a lot of things during his earthly ministry. Some things he said were simply statements of fact and teaching. Some words were for encouragement. Some things were warnings. And some of what Jesus spoke were commands.
Now, it's safe to say most American's don't like being told what do to. We hear the word "command" and we get nervous or afraid. We just don't like it. Instead, we'd rather be the one to do the telling and we expect others to do exactly as we demand. This really hits close to home when we take an inventory of how many gadgets we can order around and how frustrated we get when Siri or Google or Alexa or our TV remote control mis-understands our words and doesn't perform a function exactly as we expected.
Jesus' commands are refreshingly different.
No, they are not optional. Instead, they are like invitations into a full and fulfilling life with Christ. Saying yes and boldly following is how we grow, mature, and understand Christ better. "Follow me." "Pray like this." "Love one another." Jesus spoke many imperatives that his followers should do; however, there are many biblical examples of people choosing to reject Jesus' offer. The rich, young ruler serves as a great example. He said no to Jesus and walked away sad (Mark 10). Another example is the multitude that walked away from Christ when he said to be his true disciple one had to eat his flesh and drink his blood. They really didn't understand. But those who continue to remain faithful responded to Jesus' question about them leaving him as well, saying, "To whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6). And how about the parable where the servant buried the money that entrusted to him by the master rather than making an investment with it? (Matthew 25.)
At Redeeming Life Church, we're beginning a series called "The Commands of Christ." Many will see that title and probably freak out. But rest assured, it's not the 'Commands of Pastor Bryan' or a sermon series where your arm will be twisted. In fact, we'll simply look at an imperative of Jesus each week. Then we'll look at an example of someone in the Bible following that imperative. And if it might be helpful, some examples from Church history or even present-day believers or churches might also be shared. Then it's up to you. Accept Jesus' invitation to a rich life in Christ or not. I have no intention to put any pressure on you. You won't here me tell you to do anything at all. In fact, I simply hope to inform and allow you to draw any application you think might be good or relevant for you and your faith journey with Jesus. (I know. That's not like me!) The only pressure you might feel will have to come directly from the Holy Spirit and then it will be up to you to take the next simple step to follow Jesus or to say 'no, thank you.'
Please pray for our church and pray for me as we move into this next series. I hope this series will present you with a good picture of the wonderful life Christ offers, now and into eternity.
For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman