I was recently reflecting on the disciples of Jesus. We may be tempted to think that Jesus started with a few, gained more and more, then sent them out to the world for His mission. Actually, that’s not how it happened. In John 6, after Jesus had fed over 5,000 people, they were ready to make Him king. Jesus then began to teach more about who He truly is – the Bread of Life that has come down from heaven. Most of the people didn’t understand – or like – this message. They wanted to make Him king to live out their agenda; they didn’t want to follow the mission of Christ. So they left Him.
Yet some remained; some endured. Jesus turned to these few and asked if they were leaving Him, too. Peter replied, “Where would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.” There were few disciples left, but here is the thing: these few changed the world. Over two billion people today, who believe in the Name of Jesus, can trace their spiritual lineage back to these brave men and women who continued to follow Jesus even when it was hard, even when they didn’t completely understand. They made it through this tough day in Galilee. They made it through the darkness of the cross. They suffered as apostles, giving their lives to share God’s hope, truth, and love. The world was changed, and they were filled with joy.
I believe there is no better life than serving Jesus. Understanding His power is a first step – like the people who followed Him in order to be fed or see miracles. But the disciples who endured had experienced His power inside of their lives. They loved Him, and they had given their lives to serving Him. It is through His power that our lives are transformed, and it is through His power that He uses us to change the lives of others. I have found that those who don’t serve either walk away from Christ or try to reduce following Jesus to knowledge. Neither one works. Jesus is inviting us to taste the Bread of life. It is hard to follow Jesus, but it is powerful and life giving!
In a nutshell, this means that we need to take ownership for our faith. We can’t just be passively fed; we need to actively learn to feed ourselves from God’s word (see Hebrews 5:13-14). Too many people have a third-party relationship with Jesus – they love Him through others. Though we follow Him in community, Jesus loves – and calls – each one of us individually. My life changed when I took ownership of my faith. My serving stepped up, my prayer times got longer, and my worship grew a new passion. The best part was that my JOY began to overflow: life, faith, relationships, and even my future started to make more sense. I had less worry, more self-discipline, and more love for other people. Taking ownership is (ironically) about surrendering to Christ and taking responsibility for your faith, actions, and attitude. Taking ownership is the only way we will endure the storms that life promises to bring. I don’t think the step of ownership can be forced; it just needs to be offered. There are people in my life who are just learning about Jesus; others are struggling. But I want to keep talking about ownership because it is the next step that changes everything.