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Always a Lonely Road
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The decision to follow Jesus is one we must make for ourselves. It is never a group thing, but an individual choice that may take us down a lonely road. But Jesus always journeys with us.

Introduction
  1. The world aspires to leadership; people want to be leaders
  2. Leadership is the path to advancement; there are seminars on it
  3. World of politics emphasizes a man or woman’s leadership qualities
  4. What this hurting world needs is more “followership” – disciples who will go where their Master asks them to go
  5. Jesus walks up to two men, Peter and Andrew, as they fix their nets
    a. They’re busy, lots to do; making a living
    b. Matt. 5:19: “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
    c. Followership was a whole new life, a full-time career for 12 competitive men
  6. Jesus invites you to participate in “followership” as you plan your life
Peer Pressure
A. In a church, one couple got a great deal on a Honda Odyssey; soon seven families had them – from the same dealership!
  1. If you could recite the 4th Commandment, they gave you the same good deal!
  2. Advantages to all having the same car:
    a. If your minivan has too many miles, take someone else’s!
    b. If your kid is unruly, maybe he’ll climb in the wrong car and go home with someone else
    c. If something goes wrong with the cars, the church can start a class-action lawsuit
  3. It takes courage to stand up, face an army of Honda owners, and say: “I’m getting a Hyundai instead.
B. Sociological experiment: an instructor would hold up a white card with two lines: A and B. One was clearly longer. Everyone in the class was to “vote” on which was longer; one test subject didn’t know the others had been coached to pick wrong.
  1. Result: the guinea pig succumbed to peer pressure and picked the incorrect line as well
C. When Jesus invites us to follow and be His disciple, that is a lonely decision too
  1. Following Him will be against the flow of peer pressure
  2. Most of the crowd will be surging in the wrong direction
  3. We see our Savior up ahead, quietly beckoning: “Follow Me”
  4. We think of academy friends, former church acquaintances, who have left God’s family
  5. Hymn: I Will Follow Thee, My Savior: five verses talking about storms and waves and challenges a person faces who decides to be a disciple
    a. Chorus: “And though all men should forsake Thee, by Thy grace I’ll follow Thee.”
D. Peter, in the upper room, has brave and boastful words to say about “followership”
  1. Jesus: “Thanks, guys, for following Me up till now. You’ve stayed by My side during hard times. We’ve served instead of being served.”
  2. Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.”
    a. We’re glad even Satan can’t do some things without heaven’s permission!
  3. “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back” – ‘cause you’re going to have a bad night tonight – “strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31, 32)
  4. Simon is ready to go for it. “Lord, I am willing to go with You to prison and to death.” His warm blood surges in his veins; his sword is by his side.
  5. Great words. What he is really saying is:
    a. “As long as we stick together and have two swords, we can stay OUT of prison and AWAY from those who are determined to visit death upon us.”
    b. “I’m ready to follow You AWAY from prison and AWAY from the cemetery!”
    c. “Just don’t ask me to do anything hard or lonely.”
  6. Later it’s cold; they’ve left the upper room; they’re a sleepy and separated bunch of cowards.
    a. Soldiers are around; swords clank in the moonlight
    b. Following Jesus becomes a very lonely objective
    c. Like the song, “All men did forsake Him” – and Peter too. He leads in the 100-yard dash going the other direction
    d. Later in the courtyard he denies his best Friend three times: a bad night!
    e. Following Jesus can be a very lonely thing
    f. SONG: “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. Though no one join me, Still I will follow.”
E. WAIT A MINUTE!
  1. Picture the first two disciples asked by Jesus.
    a. They do say yes; they get right up and board His bus
    b. Typical reaction: “Wait a minute! Who ELSE have You got? Is anyone else signed up to follow You?”
    c. It was always a small army; twelve guys is the biggest it ever got
    d. When there was a big gathering, most of them just wanted free food or to be healed of leprosy
    e. When we shake our heads at the disciples’ antics, at least they followed Jesus when it was a lonely thing to do
"Good" Peer Pressure
A. A reality that is not ideal, but still a reality
  1. In the New Testament, community and “good peer pressure,” what C. S. Lewis calls “good infection,” are what the church is invited to create
    a. It’s easier to be faithful to Jesus when the other ten disciples hang in there too
    b. The church gives us community; we travel together toward the New Jerusalem
    c. We sing the same songs, pray together, study the same Bible curriculum, share experiences, feel better about the fact that we have traveling companions
    d. It’s easier to go on a mission trip when those you love are there with you!
    e. It’s said that all Christians need six friends who will walk the same road with you and give encouragement
B. Many follow when it’s easy
  1. Gallup Polls
    a. Do you believe in God? Yes - 80%
    b. Do you believe in the Ten Commandments as a foundation for a holy life? Yes – 75%
    c. Do you consider yourself a Christian? Yes – a high number there too
    d. Here in America there’s a user-friendly, low-calorie, low-demand, even NO-demand casual brand of Christian faith
    e. Much of that is like Peter in the upper room; when it comes to hard obedience, patterning our lives after Jesus, sacrifice, discipline, hardness of forgiving an enemy, followership abruptly comes to a halt
    f. We put a Jesus fish on the car, but aren’t ready to follow our General into a dangerous battle
    g. Steven Curtis Chapman song, What About the Change? Many “Jesus-y” doodads: T shirts, WWJD bracelet, Holy Spirit necklace, John 3:16 key chain, Bible magnet on the fridge. Chorus: “But what about the change? What about the difference? What about forgiveness? What about a life that shows I’m undergoing the change?”
Practical Realities About Followership
A. Peter and Andrew got up and went where Jesus was going
  1. It involved an act of travel, leaving secular things and following Jesus into a spiritual kingdom
    a. Abraham had to pack and go someplace; so did Moses, Paul, Philip
  2. It is sometimes good if our commute on Sabbath mornings is a challenge
    a. We have to pack up that Odyssey with the kids and diaper bags and GO!
  3. Missionaries have taken lonely trips around the world, often burying a spouse in a distant land, in order to practice “followership”
  4. Jesus says in John 15:14: “If you’re My friend, then do what I ask you to do.”
    a. “My friends obey what I command.”
    b. To be a follower of Jesus absolutely does mean that when we discover His will, we obey that will all the time
    c. Vince Havner: “What our Lord said about cross-bearing and obedience is not in the fine print. It is in bold print on the face of the contract.”
    d. Deut. 5:1: Here is our law. Learn it. Follow it.
  5. We have to live the will of Jesus. To the best of our ability, we go where He asks us to go
    a. Jesus tells us to love the people around us. OKAY
    b. He wants us to keep this 7th day holy in service to Him. OKAY
    c. He tells us to feed the hungry. We’ll try.
    d. He tells us to forgive one another. We commit to doing that
  6. In board meetings, where we don’t all agree, He tells us to put disagreements behind us when we adjourn
    a. CARTOON in Leadership: “So it passes, three to two, that from now on, we’ll announce all of our decisions as unanimous.”
    b. CARTOON: Chairman says to the stinker in the room, “Brother Jones, would you please step outside so that we can take a unanimous vote?
B. This is a hard list!
  1. C. S. Lewis regarding our desire to just be cultural Christians who don’t move a muscle to heed God’s will for our lives: “The answer to all that nonsense [thinking that obedience isn’t important] is that, if what you call your ‘faith’ in Christ does not involve taking the slightest notice of what He says, then it is not Faith at all – not faith or trust in Him, but only intellectual acceptance of some theory about Him.”
  2. When the Holy Spirit whispers to us as a still, small voice, “You’re on the wrong road, you should be over here,” that can be a lonely moment
  3. God is calling us away from compromise, and all our friends are compromising
C. STORY: 1996, Philippines Adventists pledged to bring 50,000 new Christians in during one year!
  1. That doesn’t sound like the “lonely road”; it sounds like a big, comforting mass movement
  2. One pastor in Polomolok was the leader of a popular “cult” church
    a. A cult makes sure you’re not alone; you’re swept along in a stream of single-minded devotion
  3. This leader was convinced God was calling him to obey and follow
    a. This meant losing his position; also estrangement from his wife!
  4. A woman named Ethel, 24, was going to lose he high-paying job as a civil engineer
    a. Night after night, there she was, singing in the choir
  5. A family that sold coconut whiskey was making a fortune; Jesus invited them to follow
    a. “Please follow Me into a new livelihood.” “What?” “You’ll find that out later. Just follow.”
    b. Now that family is part of a new community where no one drinks coconut whiskey
Conclusion
A. True greatness and dynamic change happen when a group of Christians make the decision to be followers of Jesus – and it’s a permanent, irrevocable decision
  1. They don’t keep deciding 500 times
  2. They don’t wake up each morning asking themselves: “Shall I or shall I not?”
  3. They don’t get up on Sabbath morning and endlessly ponder their decision for the day; they know they are coming here!
B. Mario Cuomo could have been President of the United States, but he could never decide.
  1. Are you running? I’m thinking about it. While deciding, many others with inferior resumes passed him in the fast lane and got to the White House instead
  2. Bill Clinton tried twice to put Cuomo on the Supreme Court.
    a. Courting a nominee is a secret, clandestine operation: done behind the scenes
    b. You want to make sure your man will say yes before you make an offer on CNN.
    c. Twice in a row, the New York governor dithered and hemmed and hawed, refused to take Oval Office phone calls, pulled 180s, yanked his yeses, and made the administration look foolish in the groveling process
C. Eleven men in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were like that. They followed Jesus, then backed away, then came back wanting great positions for themselves
  1. They wanted to walk on water, then got scared and sank
  2. Even the night before Jesus died, all eleven backtracked on their loyalty oaths and ran to the sidelines
  3. But after the Resurrection, when the new Christian Church needed definitive heroes, men who would make a commitment and follow through, these were the eleven guys
    a. None of them ever changed their votes again
    b. They never backed away or rescinded their support ever again
    c. They were done with dithering; they were Jesus’ core team for life
    d. The world was never the same again
  4. Revelation 14:4 has a description of those kinds of saints and the sorts of followers who make a difference for Jesus here in our society and in our time. They do just one thing: They follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
  5. Where Jesus goes, they go. What He does, they do. Where He leads, they follow

Submitted by David B. Smith. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.



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