Jesus has invited us to a life of "more." It is what we were created for—to move in the eternal and all-embracing purposes of the Creator. Jesus called it abundant life. But what does "more" look like, and how must we pursue it?
At its core, "more" is a life of following Jesus on His mission of rescue, reconciliation and restoration. When we are really following Jesus (which is an active choice, not merely a theology), we quickly find ourselves engaged in what He did. One of the great joys of my life is taking men and women to the front lines of kingdom engagement and watching skepticism turn to amazement and delight as they experience Jesus moving through the vehicle of their obedience.
Literally thousands of times, I have stood back and watched as people stepped across the threshold of theory and entered into the reality of kingdom activity. Through their obedience to Jesus, blind eyes and deaf ears opened, the lame walked, tumors disappeared and sickness vanished—and men, women and children encountered the power and reality of Christ. When a child born deaf or blind is instantly restored, this is rescue, for the entire direction and potential of their lives has been changed in a moment.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.” When we bring peace to a life in turmoil or a family in conflict or a community dispute, we are moving in the rhythm of our reconciling God. It is reconciliation that identifies us as His sons and daughters; to be peacemakers is both our inheritance and our responsibility that, when exercised, brings life to us and to those around us.
Following Jesus is an invitation to bring His kingdom to earth. This is the restoration of life as God always intended it to be. For years, we have watched the broken lives of women at risk restored, children going to school for the first time, the sick receiving medicine and the hungry being fed. Churches have been planted (once, we saw an entire village come to Christ in a day!). It is thrilling to watch whole communities being transformed simply because we listened to Jesus as He led us to specific places. If this is not abundant life, right here and now, then I don’t know what is.
So, how do we pursue this greater story?
Everyone’s journey is different, but here a few keys to moving forward:
- The man who found the treasure in the field (Matt. 13:44) had to choose to sell what he had in order to obtain what he had discovered. Jesus said that this is how the kingdom works. We live in a time where the implied message is that we can have everything we want. That is just not true. Jesus invites us to follow Him so that we can have what He wants for us. So we must begin by making a choice: keep the life I have or lay it down and follow Jesus.
- If we are going to respond to Jesus when He says “Follow Me,” it means going somewhere. And you can’t go somewhere until you leave somewhere. This simple truth so often trips us up. Following Jesus means leaving something behind.
- Often I am asked to pray for someone that they will know God’s will for them. But I think it is more obvious than that. Pay attention to what you think and dream about. God is for you. He wants to give you the desires of your heart (Ps. 37:4). So pay attention. Your desire reveals your destiny.
- Find out what God is doing and join in. Many times I have had people come share with me that they wish they could see healing or salvation happen. I always invite them to come on a Journey of Compassion with me to a developing nation. Why? Because I know that God will be at work and that kingdom activity is contagious. The answers to most of our deepest spiritual desires are more caught than taught.
- Finally, embrace a paradigm shift. Begin to assume that God wants you to be involved in the kingdom activities of healing, evangelism, justice and mercy. This means that our first response to an opportunity is yes unless God tells us otherwise. I think we put our own reluctance onto God. This doesn’t make a lot of sense, since we are following the One who came to seek and to save all who are lost. Making this fundamental shift may be the biggest single key to life of truly following Jesus into His great purpose.
If your heart is telling you that there has to be more to being a follower of Jesus, then there is nothing stopping you from letting that hunger propel you forward to walk with the One who is always saying, “Follow Me.” There is nothing to stop any of us and, conversely, nothing and no one to blame. Each of us must decide for ourselves.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for the joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (Matt. 13:44).
Steve Stewart is the founder of Impact Nations, a Christian organization that brings hope and restoration to the poor and vulnerable in the developing world through both supernatural and practical expressions of the kingdom of God. Follow Steve on Twitter at @impactnations, or learn more at impactnations.com.