John 1:12 is a beautiful verse. It reads as follows: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (New American Standard Bible)
If you break this verse down, it can read like this: “But those who embraced Jesus and entrusted themselves to His name, authority and cause were given the authority, power to act, dominion and liberty to become God’s children.”
What a beautiful verse! Often becoming a Christian is spoken of as though it is the end result of something. In actuality, becoming a Christian—that is, receiving or embracing Christ—is just the beginning. Once you embrace Him, you become a Child of God. This dramatically altars the course of your life. Suddenly, your life is about something much greater than yourself. Being a Christian isn’t simply coming to believe a set of facts. Instead, it is about embracing Christ and so committing to a life long journey of following Him. And, you don’t just follow Him someday on your way to heaven! Instead, its a journey. One in which you follow Him each and every day.
Something important to note is that once we embrace Jesus, we are given authority, power and freedom. Often, we mistakenly believe that such things are the end result of our faith. But, that isn’t the case. Yes, it is true that the longer we walk with the Lord, the more we grow in these things. But, it is given to us immediately upon becoming a Christian.
Why is this important? Because if we believe that this is the end result, we begin to live out our Christianity as though this is the goal of it. In other words, we aim our Christianity to growing in power. And, that isn’t the goal at all. The goal of Christianity is the very process of it. That we would be followers of Christ. Literally. That we would follow Him wherever He leads us, each and every day.
Becoming a Christian is just the start of what the Lord has planned for you. Just like in regular marriage, the destination lies in the journey.
And, by the way, this is good news. It means that you are already prepared to follow Him wherever He leads. Yes, He will equip you in the process. You will grow and be transformed along the way. But, the moment He speaks to you and tells you to do something is the moment you no longer have an excuse not to go. If He has spoken, you aren’t waiting for anything more.
This is beautifully displayed in the lives of many of our “Heroes of Faith”. For example, let’s look at the life of Abraham.
In Genesis 12, the Lord speaks to Abraham (whose name was Abram, at this time), and says: “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’ So Abram when forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him.”
Note: the Lord didn’t tell Abraham where he was going, just that He would show him where to go. So what does Abraham do? He goes. Except, here is the thing—the Lord STILL HASN’T told him where to go! This is amazing. Abraham doesn’t wait to see the plan in its entirety. He doesn’t wait for further instructions. Instead, he does what he knows to do. And, in doing so, he enters into a lifetime of following the Lord wherever He would lead. (The result of which, incidentally, is that He is the Father of us all.) He didn’t know exactly where He was going or how he would get there. Instead, he trusted all of that to God. And, God did a pretty good job of working out the details. (In fact, it was when Abraham tried to “fill in the blanks” that trouble came.)
Like Abraham, the Lord wants to guide you. When the Lord speaks to you, He is giving you the grace you need to follow Him where He is leading. His words release grace into your life. It is as you follow Him that this grace will be activated and turned into fruit.
Don’t get so worried about the “big picture” that you miss your destination because you stop following Him and try to get there by yourself. Your job isn’t to try to fill in the blanks. Your job is to simply follow where He is leading you today. As you do, you’ll be amazed where you end up.
You can hear more on this topic on the February 21st sermon by Pastor Nicole VanGelder on our podcast titled: The Destination is Found in the Process.