If you believe Jesus truly was the Son of God, do you know what He wants you to do? And what He wants to do for you?
Today many people accept the fact that a man named Jesus Christ really did live and die in the first century. Many also acknowledge that He was and continues to be the Son of God. If you accept these fundamental principles, you're doing well, but there is much more to understand and do.
As James explains: "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" (James:2:19-20).
So what does Jesus expect from us if we claim to truly follow Him? Let's look at seven areas:
1. Action required
In Luke:6:46-49 Jesus placed the emphasis on action, on "doing," by saying it was vain to call Him Lord while not following His instruction. Following His directives and commands is likened to building a house on a solid foundation. It will root and ground a person against the wind and waves that life throws our way.
Jesus warned that recognizing Him as Lord and even doing great things will not get a person into God's Kingdom (see Matthew:7:21-23). He emphasized living by God's instructions—doing "the will of My Father in heaven."
So while it is vital to acknowledge Jesus as Lord, Jesus' own words tell us it is also vitally important to live according to His teachings, which He said came from the Father (John:7:16).
2. Worship in spirit and truth
When talking with the Samaritan woman by the well, Jesus directed worship toward God the Father, saying the time had come for true worshippers to "worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him" (John:4:23).
Those words are very similar to what Jesus' namesake, the Old Testament Joshua, said to ancient Israel near the end of his life in the Promised Land. In Joshua:24:14 he reminded Israel that they were to "fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth." We get the picture from both testaments that truth and sincerity are both vitally important in true worship of God. Just any form of belief and worship won't do. It must be sincere as well as biblically accurate.
3. Church attendance
God also expects us to show up when He commands a meeting, which He does each Sabbath. God said the Sabbath is a holy, commanded assembly (convocation) where attendance by His people is required (Leviticus:23:3).
How seriously you take that command says a lot about how sincere you are in your worship.
Luke:4:16 tells us it was Jesus' custom (His regular practice) to gather in the synagogue every Sabbath to appear before God. The book of Acts shows Paul attending services every Sabbath (Acts:18:4) to discuss God's way of life with both Jews and gentiles.
4. Regular prayer and study
Jesus was a praying man while in the flesh. Read any of the Gospel accounts and you will run across numerous passages that mention His going off by Himself to pray. And He expects His followers to imitate His example. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said "when" you pray—not "if" you pray (Matthew:6:6). Paul admonished us to pray without ceasing—never giving it up (1 Thessalonians:5:17).
The people of the town of Berea were praised for their daily study of the Scriptures (Acts:17:11) as they sought to learn more about the way of life Paul was preaching and living. Jesus wants us to be in regular contact with Him through prayer and to study His written words of life in the Bible.
Jesus also wants us to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. The Gospel writers record His speaking about money on many occasions. Some Bible reference books even say He spoke more about money than any other subject.
He said to lay up treasure in heaven, because where you put your money is where your heart really is (Matthew:6:20-21). He warned against covetousness—wanting to hold onto every dime or dollar we have—saying a misplaced focus on material goods can cost us our eternal life (Luke:12:15; Mark:8:36).
Paul also taught that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil that can spiritually drown a person (1 Timothy:6:9-10). The means of support for God's work that He consistently teaches in the Bible is tithing—giving a tenth of our increase to His representatives—along with offerings (Malachi:3:8-10).
6. Service to others
The reason Jesus came in the flesh was for the benefit of others—so human beings could have their sins forgiven through the sacrifice of His perfect life. Jesus drew attention to that fact when the disciples began to worry about who was going to get the highest position of honor in the Kingdom. He told them that if they really wanted to be great, they should serve others —just as He came not to be served but to serve humanity by giving His life for all (Mark:10:42-45).
This lesson was not lost on Paul either, as he told the churches in Galatia that they needed to express their love by serving others (Galatians:5:13).
What does Jesus want from you? For you to use every opportunity you have to do good for others—to serve them. He tells us that if we do something good to the least of our fellow Christians, it's as though we have done it to Him personally (Matthew:25:40).
Perhaps the greatest desire Jesus has for us is that we continually examine our lives in humility before Him and change those areas that don't agree with the instructions of the Bible.
The Bible includes many words that describe aspects of that process— repentance, conversion, spiritual growth, etc. We should take note that the first message Jesus taught when He began His ministry here on earth was that people need to repent (Matthew:4:17).
It takes an attitude of humility to be willing to admit where we don't measure up to God's standards and to change. In Revelation 2 and 3 the messages to the churches all include references to overcoming. That means changing areas in our lives that do not look like Jesus. That process must continue until we are completely like Him, changed into spirit (1 John:3:2-3).
Another servant of God summed up our duty this way: "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah:6:8).
What a concise way to sum up what Jesus wants from you—and me and everyone who eventually comes to Him! We're to do justly—to live by all of God's commands. We're to love mercy—giving it freely to others just like He does to us, realizing that if we don't forgive others, we will not be forgiven ourselves (Matthew:6:15). And we're to walk humbly with our God—looking carefully at our lives to see if we're following His instructions. Ecclesiastes:12:13 adds that fearing God and keeping His commandments is our whole duty.
Worshipping God in spirit and truth, attending church services regularly, praying, studying, serving others, tithing and changing to become like Jesus are the things He asks of each of us.
What He wants to give us
These are the high points of what Jesus Christ expects from us. But what does He want to give us in return?
The Scriptures tell us Jesus came to earth as part of God's plan to invite human beings to live forever as members of His family (John:1:12; Hebrews:2:10).
To comprehend the significance of this offer, we need only think of how limited we are by time. As human beings, we all enjoy the pleasures and joys of life—friends, food, meaningful work, nice things, etc. But all of these things come to an end. Meals are over, jobs end, parties come to a conclusion, and we all eventually die when this lifetime is over.
God's offer to us is that we can experience happy, meaningful life forever in His Kingdom! This is an experience you certainly don't want to miss! VT