Are you a seeker of variety and variation, or instead just the opposite, a seeker of consistency who avoids frequent change? The world offers both, and so does the church throughout America.
There are large church congregations, small church congregations, big buildings, small buildings, simple meeting spaces, and elaborately decorated sanctuaries. There are loud services and quiet services, long services, and short services.
There are highly visible churches within your community and others you didn’t know existed until you spent some Google time looking for one in your area. I live in a midsized town and thought there might be 100 churches in our area but surprisingly discovered there are over 300 in my region. The same is true with the church-going folk in these churches. Some are loud, some quiet, some attend regularly and are very involved, some rarely attend, and some are very easy to identify as Christian, and some… well, not so much.
Whether you rejoice at the availability and diversity in Christianity or are perplexed and confused by it, one thing is certain: genuine followers of Jesus are linked together by the same values, qualities, and
characteristics. Genuine followers of Christ will have this in common, they identify with Jesus, they look and act like Jesus, and they are devoted to him as well as devoted to his mission and purposes, or at least they should be.
How to become a follower of Christ
While you are not to judge others, you can use the following illustration to help assist you in assessing a follower of Christ:
There is a cornfield not far from my home. In front of that cornfield, between the field and the highway which passes by it, a sign reads The Dekalb Corn company. The field was planted with seed corn this year and over the weeks to follow, green sprouts appeared, cornstalks grew, and at some point, corn will be harvested. Once the field was planted with corn, it will not yield green beans, squash, tomatoes, soybeans, or any other type of vegetable. Why? Because corn was planted, corn is growing, and corn will be harvested.
A similar pattern should be present in followers of Jesus. They should display and produce the values, qualities, and characteristics of Jesus. If Jesus is the genuine planting within a person and following Jesus Christ the pursuit and purpose of the person, then growth in his values, qualities, and characteristics should be evident and eventually harvested.
The values, qualities, and characteristics of Jesus are easily found in the Bible and ready for planting and application by the follower of Christ. Because Jesus wants us to succeed in our pursuit of him and his will, he has made certain we are enabled to succeed in doing so by sending the facilitating wisdom, guidance, and power of the Holy Spirit for our lives.
I was reminded from First Peter 3:8,9 this morning of a few of those values, qualities, and characteristics of Jesus which I can use to inventory in my own life as well as share them with you for your inventorying.
Examples of people who follow Christ
Is of one mind. That is, the genuine follower of Christ is like-minded with other Christians. They have singleness of purpose as they are linked and like-minded with Jesus. He is the one they love, serve, and are devoted to.
Sympathizes with other followers of Christ. They express sympathy for one another, and they share sentiment with one another. They understand each other and can encourage one another.
Loves other Christians as their brothers and sisters. There is genuine love for each other. Because of Christ living within each genuine follower of Jesus, you can love others with the same genuine love that Jesus loves you. If you need a reminder of what that love looks like in operation, you can find those characteristics listed in First Corinthians 13:4-8.
Is tenderhearted. Followers of Jesus are kind and gentle. First review the list from First Corinthians 13: 4-8 again. We usually breeze through the list far too quickly because it’s so familiar to our ears. Once you’ve done that, add these qualities from Galatians 5:22, 23, love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the Fruit of the Spirit and should be easily evident in the daily life of a genuine follower of Christ.
Is humble. Humility could be described here as selflessness, serving others, and thinking of others as more important than yourself. Heh, I know it’s easy to say, read, and write the word humility, but often a little more difficult to live genuinely humble each day, but again, that is why Christ ascended to heaven, so he could send the powerful enabler, the Holy Spirit, so we could live and display the life of Jesus in this world.
Doesn’t repay evil for evil and doesn’t retaliate with insults when insulted. Instead, they pay them back with a blessing. Revenge and payback are not characteristics present in Jesus and they are not to be characteristics present and practiced by the follower of Christ.
These values, qualities, and characteristics are not optional items for the follower of Christ, they are part of the make-up, the evidence which identifies a genuine follower of Christ. In other words, a little like the corn field, the sign you display may say I am a follower of Christ, but what sprouts, grows, and is harvested determines what is really planted within you. If Jesus is genuinely planted, then the values, qualities, and characteristics of Jesus is what others should see growing in you.
The benefits of following Christ
Peter ends this section of his letter to followers of Christ by reminding you of your incredibly valuable position and future as a genuine follower of Christ. The Jesus lifestyle God has called you to, and you live and practice daily, he will bless you for it. 1 Peter 3:8,9. And, trust me, no one can bless as abundantly and elaborately as our Father in heaven. He is the Maker and Sustainer of everything that has and will exist. He is unlimited in every way.
You, as a Follower of Christ, are truly a winner!