Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind!
So how do we even begin to follow him?
Matthew 4:18-20 (WEB) says,
18) Walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers: Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19) He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men." 20) They immediately left their nets and followed him.
We can begin to follow Jesus with great confidence since we know he loves all mankind. We do not have to impossibly determine if we are part of a chosen sub-set loved by Jesus. Rather we follow Jesus knowing that we are part of the chosen super-set loved by Jesus and he asks us to follow him. So we can follow Jesus with great confidence!
Matthew 16:24-27 (WEB) says,
24) Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it. 26) For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life? 27) For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to everyone according to his deeds."
We can also be certain that if we do not follow Jesus we have traded the great purposes that God has for our life for... nothing. Since Jesus could not love us more, to turn away from his love to any other thing is a crying shame. Only complete confidence in the love of God for me and you will embolden us to give Jesus everything he asks. If we want to pretend that we are part of a chosen loved sub-set or that our choice of God's love plus his love cinched our destiny, then we do not truly understand God's love. Friends, we must have rock solid confidence that Jesus' love penetrates through our core to have loved us while we were yet his enemies. Without it, we will not be able to give Jesus all that he asks. Furthermore, because his arms are stretched wide his love includes all the Pharisees on his right and all the Pagans on his left. We can have unwavering confidence that he loves us as well, whether we are self-righteous Pharisees or godless Pagans or somewhere in between. His love is fully given to all. What does he ask of us? He wants our entire life -- our complete devotion.
John 6:66-71 (WEB) says,
66) At this, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67) Jesus said therefore to the twelve, "You don’t also want to go away, do you?" 68) Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69) We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 70) Jesus answered them, "Didn’t I choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" 71 Now he spoke of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for it was he who would betray him, being one of the twelve.
Following Jesus demands our complete commitment. Our weak human strength cannot provide this level of commitment. Our promises cannot maintain this commitment. Only complete dependence upon the faithfulness of God and his guaranteed love for us can provide this commitment. We may flatter or fool ourselves thinking that we are the chosen subset because we are devoted followers of Jesus. That is radical commitment of sorts, but unfortunately not a commitment to the true Jesus, the Jesus who loves all mankind. Remember it is the Pharisees who were angry with Jesus when they learned that he does in fact love all mankind, including the Gentile "sinners." Friends, as much as we waiver about the love of God toward all mankind, we will also waiver in our commitment to him.
Do not waiver about God's love for you and me! Following Jesus demands one hundred percent confidence in his love for us as well as his love for others. Leave your nets and follow Jesus!