25 “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
26 “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”
Last night I was watching the film “Chariots of Fire,” and reflecting on what it means to live a life that honors God. To be brutally honest, I am still far too attached to the material things of my current life. I suppose Eric Liddell had a slight advantage over me in growing up in the home and atmosphere of missionary service. That enabled him to hold on loosely to his Olympic gold and bronze medals and trade them in for a few speaking engagements and then seek missionary work in China. Mr. Liddell died in a Japanese prison camp in occupied China near the end of World War II, and by all accounts he never thought it robbery to have given up his life as a famous athlete in order to serve God. He went where Christ led Him, and just as he accomplished much during his lifetime, so also has his success and his sacrifice and his death inspired several more generations of missionaries.
In reading today’s verses from the Gospel of John, I was struck by something Jesus said. When we think about Christ’s presence in our ministry, we usually think of the formula being more like what we read in the Gospel of Matthew:
19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
20 “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
From these verses, we assume that Christ is not present until several gather in His name. As soon as “two or three” come into agreement about the work that needs to be done, then Christ enters in. But read again this sentence from today’s verses:
“If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also.”
When we serve Christ, we go where He leads. And because we are merely the servant, our Master always goes before us. By the time we arrive and begin to serve Him, begin to act in His name, HE IS ALREADY THERE. So when Eric Liddell traveled across the globe to bring the gospel to China, Jesus was already there before Mr. Liddell arrived. Jesus was waiting, ready for His servants to do His bidding.
We often use the phrases “the leading of the Holy Spirit” or “Jesus leads me” to signify that we are answering a call to go and do God’s work in some situation. But I think we sometimes forget that we are not bringing Christ into that place, we are merely making His presence known. As today’s verses tell us, wherever He calls us to serve Him, He is already there. We are able to follow Jesus because He is always going before us.
Ruth 1:16-17 (King James Version)
16 And Ruth said, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
17 “Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”
Ruth’s appeal to Naomi needs to be our prayer to Jesus Christ: Where He goes let us go, and where He dwells let us dwell. Where God is spoken of in fear and love, there shall we be and we shall call those people our people. And if we must die there, then so be it, for we die in the presence of our Lord and our God. He is going before us, and we should seek to follow Him.
If we would live a life of service to Christ and seek to follow Him, then He will always go before us. When we enter into a place or a situation ready to do things in the name of Christ, then He is already there. When we prepare to share the gospel, His Spirit is waiting to aid and guide us. When we travel to far-off lands to bring them the Word of God, the King of kings travels before us and is already there when we arrive. We do not summon God to come to a place–HE summons US. Whether we are entering a place for work or worship, whether for sport or service, whether for fellowship or evangelism or prayer, let us remember that if we have been called to go there, then Christ Jesus is already there in that place.
Today, most of us will be working, some serving others, some seeking time alone to pray or to worship. Many of us will wonder, “How can I bring God into what I am doing?”
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Acknowledge the Lord’s continued presence in your life by offering all you do to Him. When you sell, sell in the name of Christ. When you teach, teach in the name of Christ. When you parent your children, parent in the name of Christ. When you plant and when you sow and when you reap, do it all in the name of Christ. Wherever God has called you to go, He is already there, working alongside you in His Spirit, showering you with His grace and His love, ready to lead you further. Serve Christ and know that He is always before you. Therefore, follow Him boldly wherever He may lead. Serve God where He is, and He shall surely honor you for your service.
Lord Jesus, Son of God and King of kings, lead me. As Ruth said, “Whither Thou goest, I will go.” And in going to that place, I will enter in with assurance that You are already there, already present in Spirit and in grace, already prepared to enter into my life and work and ministry. Lead me, precious Lord, and give me the words to speak and the acts to perform to make Your presence known to all. I will gladly serve You, Lord Jesus, and for no greater honor than to be in Your continued presence. Amen.