LIVING THE JOURNEY WITH CHRIST — A Road of Five Layers
The Christian faith often lacks clear focus and direction. It can be the ultimate example of aiming at nothing – and hitting it!
In an effort to lay out a simple-to-understand path of discipleship, we’ve suggested that the road is made of five layers – five levels or stages – that we must move along. They’re all necessary if we want to be maturing in our relationship with Christ.
The first thing that happens on this road is MEETING CHRIST. We don’t have to find Him; we just have to let ourselves be found! He meets us where we are, and He’s willing to forgive us as He finds us. We experience acceptance by Him. We could never be good enough to be accepted by such a holy One as He is: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Christ comes to us and offers us forgiveness. He’s already done all the work by dying for our sins on the cross; we just need to accept Him as our very own Savior.
FOLLOWING CHRIST is the next step on our spiritual journey. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) We live for ourselves and also live for Him. We’re supposed to give Him leadership of our lives. We’re not supposed to follow our own whims; we’re meant to follow His will! We experience a calling on our lives. There’s no higher purpose than living for Him!
The third level we’re to step up to is LEARNING FROM CHRIST. Throughout the gospels Jesus was called “teacher,” and He still is that! “You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for this is what I am.” (John 13:13) We’re His disciples; the term “disciple” means “student,” and we should always be learning from Him. Jesus endorsed every part of the Bible, from the books of Moses (the first five books of the Bible) to the law and the prophets, and on to what His own followers would someday write that would make up our New Testament. We’re His students, and it’s all meant to be our textbook.
BECOMING LIKE CHRIST is the fourth level of the spiritual road we’re to be traveling on. Following the gospel record of His example, we’re supposed to be like Him. We’re supposed to be close to Jesus, because the closer we walk with Him the more we put ourselves under His influence! We’re also meant to take what He teaches and put it into practice: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. . . . Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:15,17)
SERVING WITH CHRIST is the fifth level of the road of our spiritual journey. He has a purpose for our being here! We have a calling from Jesus to serve Him by serving the people He puts around us. Thankfully, we don’t have to do this by our own strength; He comes beside us and helps us. Jesus used the imagery of a yoke, the wooden apparatus that’s placed over two oxen and to which a plow or wagon is attached. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30) He doesn’t invite us to work for Him; He invites us to work with Him!