As we continue along this look at Faith Wrestlers in our Sunday sermons and Shepherd Group discussions, we took a look this past week at some of the important aspects of being a leader. Using Moses as a real person that had those struggles and yet was a faithful leader I hope puts those characteristics in a more understandable light.
Today we look at the other part of that. Impossible to have leaders without followers. And church leaders are also church members. So this week we consider some of the aspects and responsibilities of church membership. Using the people discussed in John 6 as our examples, we will be angered—and challenged—by those who followed Jesus simply for what they could get out of Him.
The scary part of this story is that when His teaching got hard and they weren’t getting what they wanted or expected, they just left.
Why is that do you suppose? Why do people leave Christ and His church today?
Selfishness is likely at the root. And it calls on us to examine our own lives. What happens when what I want or what I think is right for me comes in conflict with the will and Word of God? That’s exactly what the deserters in John 6 faced. Rather than choose the Word of God over their own desires, they left.
Yet Jesus’ closest disciples did not leave Him. So, same question, from the other direction: Why’d they stay?
Unselfishness is likely a part of the answer. They confessed their belief that Jesus is the Christ. So if they leave Him, they ask out loud, where would they go? If you leave the Son of God, to whom do you turn? I guess you turn to someone who will tell you what you want to hear instead of the truth. I suppose you turn to someone who will be okay with you turning away from the Word and will of God to satisfy your own desires. You turn to yourself.
What keeps us from doing that? I think it’s more than just unselfishness. It think it’s joy. Joy the world doesn’t understand—people of the world are “happy” only when they get their way, only when they get to do what they want. Happy as the world understands it is far different from the joy that Jesus gives. His is a joy that is not dependent on whether or not good things are happening for me and whether or not I’m getting to do what I want. Followers of Christ find joy in obedience to the Word and will of the God who loves them. Followers of Christ are able to do this because that’s exactly what our Lord did.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)