Living life on purpose is a daunting but achievable task. It means planning our days and designing our life to look like the One whom we serve – Jesus Christ. We cannot hope to be an obedient follower simply by praying a prayer and then assuming everything else will take care of itself. That’s like deciding to learn how to play an instrument by signing up for a class. It takes more than signing on. It takes attending the classes, learning the exercises, and practicing for hours each day. Mastering an instrument requires a steely discipline, a significant sacrifice and a probably a few tears along the way. It is the same with following Jesus.
Without disciplining ourselves to follow in His footsteps, we will never grow to become the person He created us to be. We have to examine the way He lived and then integrate those principles into our own life. Jesus often withdrew to pray alone. He took every opportunity to speak to others about God. He was never too busy to take time for someone in need. He touched the sick and had compassion for the poor and dying. Are these traits evident in our lives? Do we have a scheduled time to get alone, away from distraction, just to communicate with the Father? We all need to take time for these moments of intimacy through prayer, listening and talking to God. Do we take the time to truly invest in the lives of others, or are we so distracted and consumed with the busyness of our lives that we simply pass them by? Do we care for the sick or look the other way? What is our attitude towards the poor and the dying? Do we give of our own resources to comfort and aid them in their distress? If we would live a life dedicated to Christ, we must learn to do the things He did and love as He loved. This will require a conscious effort on our part, one that will need to be intentionally implemented and constantly practiced. To be certain, we will often fail to reflect the love of Christ, but the more we practice, the brighter we will shine.
Following Jesus will require a fair amount of sacrifice on our behalf. We will have to make choices that bring little satisfaction in the short run but reap great long term results. If we would follow Christ, we will need to put away the things in life that bring temporal pleasure in exchange for the activities that deliver eternal joy. Our time and money will need to be surrendered to His kingdom instead of being spent to satisfy our selfish desires. Ultimately we may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice and give our very lives because of our identity with Christ. Many Christians overlook the fact that Jesus told us that we would face persecution (Matthew 5:11) and even death because of Him. If we are serious about pursuing Jesus, we must be willing to sacrifice as He did; without sacrifice there is no salvation.
As we practice walking as He did, as we face persecution for our beliefs, it is natural to become frustrated and discouraged. Following Jesus can be painful and hard. As Margaret Becker once wrote, “God’s not afraid of your honesty”; it’s okay to cry and let Him know exactly how you feel and where it hurts. He loves you and cares for you. Ultimately He will heal us and bring us into His presence to live forever. Tears are both cleansing and healing, so let it out and then get back to the work of following Him.
It’s been said many times, but following Jesus is not a spectator sport; it is an active and passionate pursuit. If He is our goal, then it is our responsibility to live intentionally and on purpose for Him. By disciplining our lives to look like His and practicing the things He did and told us to do, by sacrificing all we are for all He is, and by not being afraid to give him our burdens and frustrations, we will find a life that is fulfilling and meaningful. We will find life as it was meant to be lived. We will find the heart of Jesus.