The Fire

          The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.  When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.  Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.  The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).  And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
John 1:35-42 (NIV)

When John pointed out Jesus to a couple of his disciples, they started on a path that has been replicated over and over again through the last 2000 years.

First of all, they left their old life, their old teacher, and their old ways of doing things, and they followed Jesus.  Starting that moment, they no longer considered themselves to be disciples of John; they were now disciples of Jesus.  They called Him “Rabbi,” and they began learning from Him.  They spent the whole day with Him, the first of many hundreds that they spent in His presence.

Today, all around the world, people are leaving behind their old life, their old teachers, and their old ways of doing things and they are following Jesus.  And this is actually at the very core of true Christianity.  When we decide to follow Jesus, there is necessarily a profound break with the life that we were living before we met Him.  When we take advantage of the salvation that He bought for us at the cost of His own life, when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, and when He comes to inhabit our lives, everything changes.  As Paul put it, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

And when we are made new, we end up leaving behind old habits, old ways of thinking, old patterns of behavior and speech, and even old friends and associates.  A lot of the labels that we applied to ourselves are now replaced with the all-encompassing label of “Christian.”  We trade in our old teachers and their instructions for the Teacher of all teachers and His words of life.

And we start to spend time with Jesus.  Not just a few minutes here and there, but lots of time.  We develop a profound hunger for the Word of God, finding new meanings in passages of Scripture that we may have read dozens of times, but which now speak to our hearts with fresh urgency.  Prayer starts to feel more and more natural as we begin to spend time with Jesus, just talking, listening, and learning.  It’s all part of a brand new life that is launched at the moment of salvation, but that goes on forever.

And the second thing that changed for those former disciples of John was that they immediately started sharing their experience of Jesus with those close to them.  Andrew immediately went to his brother, Simon, and brought him to Jesus so that he could have HIS life totally transformed.  And Peter came!  Not arguing, no “well, I’m glad you found something that works for you, but I really don’t need anything like that.”  Andrew’s testimony was immediate and compelling.  The change in his life was evident.  And his enthusiasm was contagious.

These days, all over the world, people who have received new life for themselves are bringing their friends, their families, their co-workers, and even perfect strangers, to their Lord and Savior.  And they don’t need a class on evangelism or a list of Bible verses to do it!  They simply share their own experience with Jesus, take the ones that they care about by the hand, and introduce them to Jesus in exactly the same way that they were introduced to Him.  Amazingly simple.  Amazingly effective!

These two profound changes are the marks of the new birth.  When someone is truly born again, their lives are immediately transformed as they turn away from the things that used to be at the center of their lives, and follow Jesus instead.  And those changes continue as they learn more and more from Him, and shape their lives according to His pattern.  And these new-born believers have an inborn desire to see their family members and friends become followers of Jesus, too!

When we see a new believer, so fired up and excited about their new-found faith, their new God-created life, and the Jesus that they have come to know, we can sometimes feel a little embarrassed by their excitement and their unbridled enthusiasm.  But before we decide to take a few steps away from these new dynamos of the faith, or to talk to them in order to cool them off a bit, we need to remember that, according to the pattern shown in the Bible, this is the NORMAL state of a Christian.  I suggest instead that we take a few steps closer; encourage them and support them, and pray that they stay burning hot and strong for the kingdom.  And in the process we will find our own fire getting stoked back up to the white-hot intensity that is supposed to be the norm for disciples of Jesus!

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