UNION GROVE CHURCH OF CHRIST, CLEVELAND TN.

THE BENEFITS OF FOLLOWING JESUS

There are lot of things in life that are no different for a Christian and a non-Christian. It is a fact that non-Christians get sick, but so do Christians. Students that are not saints have to do homework and take tests, but so do Christian students. Non-Christians have to work to make a living, but so do Christians. Non-saints face problems in life, but so do Godís people. Non-saints make mistakes, but so do Christians. Non-saints pay taxes, but so do Christians. Non-saints get down in the dumps, but so do Christians. Non-saints die, but so do Christians.

The list above could be extended indefinitely, right? What, then, is so great about being a Christian? The word "Christian" means a follower of the Christ. Agrippa admitted that he was almost persuaded to become a Christian (Acts 26:28). Some view the Christian life as one that is unduly restricted, without any real freedom, and a life of no joy or pleasure. Such a notion is wrong because it clashes with the teaching of the New Testament.

The truth is, life has real meaning because Jesus died for us! Many employers try to entice potential employees by telling of the benefits package that their workers receive. Well, what about serving Jesus, does it have a built-in benefits package? It does, indeed.

Those that faithfully follow Jesus have The Best/Most Meaningful Life in the World. Christians are people that enjoy the best quality of life on earth! It is certainly better than the life of animals (Genesis 1:28; Matthew 10:31). The life of a child of God is also better than material wealth. "All spiritual blessings" in the Christ (Ephesians 1:3) beat unstable material riches any day. And, the Christianís life of walking in the light is far better than a life of darkness (1 John 1:6,7).

Christians enjoy the abundant life in the Christ, Who is our Good Shepherd (John 10:10,11). Following Jesus is not just "a" good way to live. Neither is the Christian life "one of the best" ways to live. No, being a Christ-following person is the absolute best life in every way! You cannot be a better person than the Christ makes you through His gospel.

Those that faithfully follow Jesus also have The Forgiveness of Sins. Which is better, to be saved, or to be lost? There may be some who "could care less" about such a question, but those who are thinking rationally know that salvation is better than condemnation. Sin separates from God (Isaiah 59:1,2), but the Saviorís death reconciles sinners to the Creator (Romans 5:8-11). Why is forgiveness such a big deal? Because God no longer remembers or holds past sins against the forgiven ones (Hebrews 8:12). Yes, it is great to be forgiven by the abundant grace of God (Ephesians 1:7). Those who leave this world in an unforgiven, separated state, separated from God, that is, will be separated from Him eternally (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

A third benefit of faithfully following Jesus is having A Life of Genuine Peace and Happiness. Jesus promises, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). In Jesus, there truly is rest for the weary. We recall a man from Ethiopia that rejoiced after he was baptized into the Christ (Acts 8:36-39). One that serves the Savior has what we might call the "satisfaction" of knowing that he is doing the Lordís will, knowing that he is showing reverence for Him and keeping His commands, which is the whole of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13). With peace of mind and joy also comes the confidence that the Lord will be with us and bless us. If we remain faithful to Him, then His promises holds true: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5), and as we walk in the light, "we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

Yet another benefit of faithfully following Jesus is that we have Fellowship with the Best People in the World. In Godís church, we are His house or family (1 Timothy 3:15). Our relationship is that of brothers and sisters (Galatians 3:26,27). My brothers and sisters understand what I go through as a Christian. They are pulling with me and for me. Who wouldnít enjoy a family like that?! Our fellowship is with saved people, the children of light (Ephesians 5:8).

Though none is perfect, so many of my brethren in the Lord set a wonderful example for me to imitate (1 Timothy 4:12). You cannot put a price tag on that type of positive influence. So many saints of God do great works and labors of love (Hebrews 6:10), being ready to sacrifice for His Cause like Acquilla and Pruscilla did (Romans 16:3-5). How wonderful it is to have sisters and brothers in the Christ that really do care about us, desiring most of all that we make it to heaven. We are also blessed to have special brothers who serve as our shepherds and watch for our souls (Hebrews 13:17). You just cannot top the delightful association and comradeship that you and I share with other faithful children of the living God!

In addition, those that faithfully follow Jesus have The Best Hope Ė The Hope of Eternal Life. Unlike many people who stumble through life with no direction, faithful saints have something to which they can look forward! Christians are headed toward an incomparable destination, and they know it. Jesus is the only way to the Father in heaven (John 14:6), and He is our single hope (1 Timothy 1:1).

Jesus taught that eternal life is available in the world or age to come (Mark 10:30). We live "in hope of eternal life" (Titus 1:2). Stated another way, the Lord has begotten us unto a lively hope (1 Peter 1:3). Unto what are we looking with desire, expectation, and anticipation? The very next verse has these words: "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." Simply put, our hope is to live forever in heaven. There is no other hope that compares to this one!

Thank God for Jesus. Thank God for the life that we can enjoy in Him. Yes, through Jesus we have the greatest "benefits package" available to mankind. And, here is the great thing about such a deal: it is not limited to just a few people. All people everywhere are invited to come and share in the blessings that God has arranged in and through His Son. It is up to you and me to get busy and stay busy telling the whole world about what following Jesus has to offer.

-- Roger D. Campbell

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Last modified: September 27, 2008