God has been prodding my conscience lately as I realize that people (maybe me?) often profess to follow Jesus for any number of reasons. For some it could be cultural or family tradition passed down for generations. For others, it may be politically or professionally advantageous to be known as a Christ-follower. Yet others find hope and genuine regeneration through faith in Jesus and His substitutionary death on the cross for our sins.
In the book of Acts, Dr. Luke profiles several lives changed by our Lord and lived through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. He also demonstrates the danger of claiming a lifestyle that appears genuine but lacks heart change and counterfeits the authentic change of the new birth. Simon the magician in Acts 8 is a striking example of attempting to “add Jesus” to one’s personal agenda.
While authentic conversions to Christ were occurring in Samaria, Simon already had acquired a following and a reputation, “…saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, ‘This man is the power of God that is called Great’” (Acts 8:9-10). When he offered money to the apostle Peter to buy the ability “so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” (v.19), Peter’s reply was swift and to the point: “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!” (v. 20).
Simon simply wanted to “add Jesus” to the agenda he had established for himself to enhance his abilities or perchance acquire a supernatural marketing tool. He never heard the Master warn, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” (Matthew 6:24).
Authentically serving Jesus isn’t adding Him to my plans, but denying my agenda in favor of His. Here are a few questions for contemplation, and perhaps conviction as we seek to allow the risen Lord to live His life in us: Have I added Jesus to my career or has He directed me into this stewardship of my life? If Jesus were to clearly call me out of my profession to an area of His choosing (like calling fishermen to follow Him), how would I respond? If He would send me in a life-direction contrary to everything I’ve prepared for (like Saul of Tarsus), would I yield to Him?
As we focus on the cross and resurrection of our Lord, maybe now is a good time to take a look at the bottom line, count the cost of following Him, and realize what it means to be a Christ-follower.