John 12:26 “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
There are two minor differences in translation between the NIV and the Japanese. The NIV puts the imperative, “must,” with “follow,” while the Japanese puts it with “be with.” The other difference is that where the NIV says “honor,” the Japanese says “reward.” The point in any case is that serving Jesus means being with Him, and to me that is reward enough. Jesus touched on this theme again in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14:13) and in His Pastoral Prayer (John 17:24). He really meant it! Serving Him and being with Him really are inseparable. There are those who say they want to serve Him but they won’t take time with Him in private each day. There are also those who insist they are close to Him but they won’t do what He tells them. Either situation is a deception, and can be tragic. If we look at serving as an obligation, a duty, then we miss out on the joy and unlimited blessing of fellowship with Christ. That is particularly sad because such fellowship is the purpose for which we were created. Jesus made it very clear that love for Him included obedience, (John 14:23) and in his first letter John stated flat out, “This is love for God: to obey his commands.” (1 John 5:3) That doesn’t fit the feel-good fluff that too many churches have taught. The Bible speaks many times about our being the Body of Christ, but if a part of your body won’t do what you want it to, that’s a major problem. For us to be properly connected to our Head, we have to be responsive and obedient. That’s what being with Him is all about.
The longer I walk with Christ the more closely I want to do so. My morning devotion times are my first priority, but if that doesn’t translate into obedience throughout the day, it means very little. I tend to draw back from tasks I don’t enjoy – like cleaning my study! That’s no way to enjoy God’s best. Yesterday’s church business meeting was an answer to prayer, with genuine sharing and discussion but no arguing. I believe God is indeed shaping us into the Body that He wants, but for that to happen we have to be fully committed to obedience. I need to stay flexible, not depending on my gifts but allowing God to do things through others in ways that I wouldn’t – and not being up tight about it! I need to remember that obedience to God includes helping others be obedient to Him as well, even when their obedience doesn’t look like mine.
Father, thank You for Your amazing grace toward us, individually and as a church. Help us indeed be and do as You desire and intend, growing spiritually and in numbers, to be a powerful, effective witness for Christ in this city and this nation, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!