What is the attraction?
I can just picture them, running up to their new BFF, wondering what astounding act Jesus would do next. They had searched for Him after they had enjoyed their dinner and a show on the hillside (John 6:1-24 ESV ). They followed Him in the beginning because they witnessed the miraculous signs He had performed on the sick, then they experienced their “fill” on the hillside with the miracle of the fish and loaves being multiplied.
This was enough motivation to make Him king by force. At least that was THEIR plan.
It was easy to see how they could use Him for their own personal benefit. Who doesn’t like a genie in a bottle, right? Or a circus full of entertainment? Now there was an even better reason to follow Him.
That is why Jesus wanted no part of their “following“.
Are we following Christ to be temporarily fed or eternally fulfilled?
Why do we believe that motivation matters when it comes to WHY we are following Christ? Because He said so in John 6:25-27.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”
It matters not only that we follow Christ, but for the right reasons. Yes, we will receive gain from it. Yet, should that be the sole motivation or even the primary one?
To understand (or at least try to understand) who Christ is, we are overwhelmed with ALL that He is. Jesus’s value to us as He paid our sin debt is priceless. But to add in who He can be to us through a daily, intimate relationship makes His worth even greater.
To understand who Christ is, we are overwhelmed with ALL that He is.
That’s why when we settle for anything less than that, it is such a travesty!
The crowd who followed Him that day could only fathom personal physical gain. Jesus longed to give them so much more of Himself than just a belly full of food.
The Bread of Life (John 6:28-59) was standing before them, offering eternal food that would satisfy not just their temporal hunger, but their inner famine.
Following Hard for Right Reasons
I have always been drawn to David in the Old Testament. Boy, if there ever was a man who followed for the right reasons, it was him!
Acts 13:22 has God Himself testifying about David being a man after His heart- not after food, not wealth, not a kingdom, not vengeance or personal gain. David was after the very heart of God! The relationship first and foremost, not the tangible, external gain but the inner, eternal blessing.
My all-time favorite passage that describes the heart and faith of David is Psalm 63 . He has just been chased out of his kingdom by his own son. He and a few loyal subjects are forced into the desert, on the run from those pursuing their demise. All would agree that David is in desperate physical need: protection, food, water, justice, etc. Yet the first thing out of David’s mouth (verse 1) as he utters this Psalm is how desperate he is for …………God!
He goes on to describe his intention, what motivates him. In the midst of chaos and confusion, as he is on the run, this man details the reason he is following hard.
My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:8 AMPC
Wow! That is a man truly after God’s own heart and a perspective I always want to remember. That is why I call my blog “Following Hard!”
I know how easy it is to follow Christ for His perks more than His person. I don’t readily recognize when I have slipped into selfish motives- when I want Christ to meet my temporal, physical need NOW! Usually, it is when the feeling of “desperation” becomes obvious to me that I realize I have settled for less than what He came for.
His purpose is diminished when all I want from Him is His power displayed FOR me. My desperation “demands”, which means my soul is at unrest.
To follow like David reflects more of a longing for Christ, the person, rather than His performance on my behalf. His power is displayed IN me so that my soul is at rest even in the midst of need or chaos.
It comes down to what I am following hard for- Christ or His service to me.
I have experienced the overwhelming fulfillment and it is so much better than just seeking the immediate answer to my temporal need.
There can be 3 tendencies that creep in if we are not being diligent against them as it pertains to faith.
3 Ways we cheat ourselves out of His best
1. We are curious but not ready to commit.
2. We want to be entertained but not challenged.
3. We settle for just enough of Jesus to “satisfy” but not enough to “fulfill.”
The crowds following Jesus that day were curious but they had no intention of committing to Him for any other reason than their own personal concierge service. They enjoyed the spectacular nature of Jesus but had no interest in actually learning anything from Him nor any religious accountability. And the worst, they were willing to be satisfied but never following to the extent so that they could be fulfilled, like David.
The difference according to WikiDiff is substantial:
satisfy is to do enough; to meet (needs); to fulfill (wishes, requirements) while fulfill is to fill full; fill to the utmost capacity; fill up.
The difference between David following hard after God and those crowds by the lakeshore following Christ is not to be misunderstood nor undervalued. Curiosity or entertainment values are not reflective of salvation. Those seeking Christ for such reasons would be missing out on the eternal salvation that God offers through His Son. Luke 8:4-15 gives a good analogy of the differences in how people “follow” Christ.
And for those willing to settle for satisfaction rather than fulfillment, they are missing out on the abundant life. (Luke 10:10)
Jesus offers as we follow Him wholeheartedly like David did.
The difference is such a waste either way! To settle for less than all He came for is cheating ourselves out of a future glory and a fulfilling reality for today.
How has this article encouraged you? Comment below.
Be sure to read more from the author Gretchen Fleming at Gretchenfleming.com.
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