How to evaluate yourself as a follower of Jesus – John 6:52-71, Part 5

Do you ever wonder if you are a true follower of Jesus?  Do you wonder if you could or should do more for Jesus?  Do you ever have that internal conversation where you weigh the evidence of your life?  On the one hand you list the ways you are a faithful Christian.  On the other hand, you can list ways you are apathetic, the bad choices you make, when you are selfish, and even unfaithful.  We don’t usually like to think of ourselves negatively so we can justify our lives by thinking, “I’m pretty good…at least I’m not a _____.”

As we conclude our study of John 6, verses 52-71, it seems that Jesus’ followers were wondering about themselves. And Jesus was wondering about them too.

Jesus’ twelve disciples were his closest followers, the ones he spent the most time with, but he had many other disciples.  Apparently this whole “eat my flesh, drink my blood” (read about that here) thing was too much for a bunch of those other disciples.  The crowd thins out when Jesus won’t perform for them.  When he calls them to give control of their lives to him, they choose to keep control of their lives and not trust in him.  What about his inner circle?  What about the Twelve?  In the previous post, we learned that Jesus wondered if they would leave him too. Look at John chapter 6, verses 68 and 69, where one of Jesus’ twelve disciples responds,

“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God’.”

I love Peter’s response: “Where else can we go?”  I think Peter is saying, “Jesus, you are The One.  You’re the top.  Why would we go to something lower?  You’re the truth!  Why we would go to something false?”  Peter, in other words, is saying, “We’re in.  We believe you are who you said you are.  We’re not here for free food.  We’re with you, come what may.” 

Peter’s is a powerful confession of saying, “We believe not just in our minds, but we are going to show you we believe by sticking with you.  We are have been doing what you said, and we are going to keep doing what you said.  We are eating your flesh and drinking your blood.  We are remaining in you, giving you control of our lives.  We choose your way of life.  We trust you.”  What is especially amazing about Peter’s confession is that the disciples were following Jesus when they didn’t fully understand him.  They followed him when he said really bizarre things, when he called them to give up control, and when the crowds started leaving him.  It is really, really difficult to go against the crowd.  Yet they did.  They gave up everything to follow him.  Financial stability.  Personal safety.  Peace.  Those disciples were all in.

Except one.  Look at verses 70-71.

“Then Jesus replied, ‘Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!’ (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)”

There is one who would betray him, and we’ll get to that story in the coming months.  For now, Jesus just hints at it.  He also says, “Have I not chosen you?” which seems to be Jesus exulting in hearing Peter’s confession.  Almost like he saying, “Yes!  That’s right, Peter.  That’s why I chose you twelve.  You are the ones who are faithful.  Well, except one of you.”  Which had to create a stir among them.  “What???  One of us is a devil?  What does that mean?” The chapter ends abruptly, leaving us wondering if the disciples were concerned about which one of them was a devil.

As I started this post, it is natural for any follower of Jesus to likewise wonder about the quality of our discipleship to Jesus. While we would do well to live in the gracious love of Jesus, knowing that he loves us no matter what, we would also do we to evaluate our lives, as we don’t want to be satisfied with complacency or apathy. So I encourage you to consider the following questions:

Is there an addiction you need help to get rid of?  Is there a way you can serve Jesus more in the life and ministry of the church?  Is there space you can open up in your life to spend more time with him, studying the Bible, listening to his Spirit in prayer?  Have you been hoarding control of your life?  Has your pattern of seeking Jesus been primarily for what you can get out of him, rather than following him for his sake, and for the mission of his kingdom?  Choose Jesus now, grateful that God has made a way for us to make that choice. 

Would Jesus say that you are giving him control of your life?  What is your basis for how you live your life?  Is it his heart, his ways and his actions that are guiding your decisions?  When things seem too difficult, do you go to him for the strength to choose him anyway?  That’s remaining in him in the middle of the difficulty.  When he says, “Love your enemy,” when all you want to do is gossip about them, cut them down, undermine them, or give them the silent treatment.  Instead we actually give up control and love them. 

In nearby Harrisburg, PA, Ralph Rodriguez’ doorbell camera alerted him that an intruder was trying to break into the building of his nonprofit.  Rodriguez immediately went to the scene and confronted the intruder. The man ran off, but the next day Rodriguez received a message online from the man. What happened next is a wonderful example of loving your enemy. Rodriguez, rather than condemn the man, sought to help him, and they struck up a friendship. See the CBS News report here. Is there someone you need to love that way?

Jesus will say in John 13, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.”  Sometimes giving Jesus control of our lives means not only loving our enemies, but it also means loving one another in a church family.  Christians can sometimes be the most difficult people to love. Have you ever been hurt deeply by another Christian?  Maybe by someone in your church family?  What will you do to give Jesus control and love one another?  Not that you need to be best friends with everyone in the church family.  That’s not possible. But what can you do to reach out in love to even the difficult people in your church family?

Would he say that we are remaining in him?  Here’s the thing, remaining in him is by far, the best way to live.  To have the life of Jesus in our lives, empowering us?  There is nothing better.  While there is nothing better, please don’t hear me saying, “There is nothing easier.”  Choosing to give Jesus control of your life and follow the way and mission of his Kingdom is not necessarily easier.  But because it is God’s way, it is good, and it is the best way.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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