The classic evangelistic message is: "Repent and follow Jesus!" Repent means to turn around, and follow means to...follow. The Christian Gospel calls us to action, to move in a particular direction. But where are we going, exactly?
Christians in the USA have been stuffed with the message that we are supposed to keep politics and religion separated. This message is fueled by the notion that Christians should concern themselves with "spiritual things" and let the world take care of "earthly things." Hence, the idea that we would physically follow Jesus somewhere in this world is a foreign concept. We simply follow Jesus "in our hearts", whatever that means. It is high time we recognized the lie of this dichotomy and gave it up. Jesus is alive in this world, and He calls us to follow Him. Where in the world, and I do mean "in the world," is He going?
After Jesus was raised from the dead, He told His disciples, "As the Father sent me into the world, so I send you." And then He breathed on them and said, "receive the Holy Spirit." Jesus also declared that "all authority in heaven and on earth" had been given to Him before He ascended to His throne as Lord over the cosmos. Today, Jesus sits at God's right hand, ruling over the nations and waiting for the day when God puts everything under His feet fully and finally. Physically speaking, Jesus isn't going anywhere. He is installed as Lord and sits on His throne. But His work in the world continues in the power of the Holy Spirit in and through His people. As the apostle Paul says,
"We are His workmanship created for good works in Christ." Ephesians 2:10
The work of Jesus is to bring everything on earth, spiritual and physical, into line with God's good order. When the world is ordered, it causes everything to bloom in beauty, grace, and life. That is the work carried out through the Holy Spirit in us.
When we receive the call to "repent and follow Jesus," we take up the work of establishing justice and peace as agents of new creation and Holy order. This is clearly a call to government and politics. Government is how the world gets ordered. The prophet Isaiah declared that the authority for governing the world rests on one man's shoulders (Isaiah 9:6), who is the Messiah. And that one man, Jesus, has sent His followers into the world commissioned to cooperate with Him (See John 20:21). Jesus sent His disciples out. To be sent requires physical movement, a direction, and a destination.
So where have we been sent? Where is Jesus leading us?
Jesus is leading us "into all the world." (Matthew 28:19)
Where there is darkness, Jesus sends us with Light. Where there is chaos, Jesus called us to bring order. Where there is corruption, Jesus commissioned us with a mandate for justice. In place of lies, we speak the truth. When there is oppression, we declare liberty. Where there is condemnation, we embody God's grace and mercy. Jesus equipped us to set the captives free and to bind up the wounds (Isaiah 61:1). Through His followers, the work of Jesus is the recovery of sight for the blind and the restoration of life from the dead. These are the things Jesus did, and we are to follow His example. Jesus did these things on earth, and He called us to the same location.
To follow Jesus means to do these things and more. We are not called to follow Jesus on a cloud to heaven. We are called to follow Jesus as He brings the rule and reign of Heaven to earth. Jesus called you to follow Him to your neighbor's house to administer healing and forgiveness. Jesus called you to go over the ocean to a nation that has not yet heard His name. Jesus called you to follow Him to a location on planet earth, to administer His life-giving reign right here and right now. Jesus gave this final command at His ascension to the throne: "Go into all the world." If your feet are not moving toward a destination for God's mission, you are not following Jesus.
Followers of Jesus are people who, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, work to bring their personal lives, their family's life, and the nations of the world into line with the heart, purposes, and will of God the Father and His son, Jesus the King.
Are you an order-bringer, a chaos-maker, or a waster of your inheritance?