Thus Saith The Lord, Indeed
Humor me a minute, and let me ask some rhetorical questions?
Is there a difference between calling yourself a Christian and following Christ?
Is there a difference between going to church, and spending time in worship?
Is there a difference between living a good life and upholding our end in living the Spirit filled life Jesus calls us to live?
Is there a foolproof way to determine if we are following Christ as opposed to thinking or claiming we are?
Is desiring to serve and please God the same as truly serving and pleasing God?
We could go on and on, and some people might stop with just these few and accuse us of splitting hairs and say it doesn't matter what we actually manage to do, but rather what we desire to do. Now, in the context that none of us can live perfectly, and we will sin, and we must have the blood of Christ to keep us acceptable to Him, and He looks at our hearts, I'd agree. But there certainly is a difference between a desire to serve God, and serving Him. So what exactly is a Christ follower?
For sure, we must have a desire to serve and please God. There are no scriptures that would indicate we can accomplish faithful service without a desire to do so. Scripture also gives examples of people who wanted to, or at least indicated they did, but failed to. (Matt 19:16-30) When we talk about desire, that's a broad term. Our desire must be multifaceted. By that I mean we must have a sincere desire to serve, a desire to love, a desire to obey, and a desire to have an intimate relationship with Him, and those are just the bullet points. It's simply not enough to have some system of going through the motions. Jesus had a few "woes" for people who thought like that. (Matt 23)
We must have a daily mission, "a calling" if you like that term, and a daily commitment to duty. These things understandably start with us being 'babes in Christ' and progress from newborn to infancy, to childhood to hopefully adulthood and maturity. Time must pass, growth must occur, and desire to serve matures to a service filled life of devotion. We grow our understanding of what commitment means, we learn what conviction means. What perhaps starts as difficult, maybe even part-time because of our immaturity, eventually becomes our full-time calling. We progress from it being what we desire to it being who we are.
As we monitor our chosen path, let us often and always evaluate our actions to make sure that what we are doing is in keeping with His instructions. In examining our relationship with Him to insure we are serving God in His way, on His terms, and according to His teachings and instructions, let us remember it is imperative that we adhere to the Bible for authorization and approval of all we do. We must be careful that we are driven by truth and instruction in righteousness, and not our worldly emotions or ambitions.
A saying that floated around recently said, "You don't need to understand God's plan, all you need to do is surrender". I DISagree entirely. How can we do the will of God, if we don't understand what that will is? Why did God leave us the Bible, full of instructions on how to live and what God's plan for us is, if He didn't determine that we needed to understand it? Why are we commanded to study it, to show ourselves approved and capable of rightly handling the word of truth?
Trying to go it from our feelings, or our own sense of things has been condemned by scripture over and over again, from Old Testament proverbs to the very words of Christ. Jesus himself said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matt 7:21ff)
Do we know what His will is? Are we doing it? No other questions really matter, do they?