God is no stop-gap
People come to Jesus for all kinds of reasons: some because they hope for a quick solution to their problems, others because they long to be with God forever. Chief Apostle Schneider recently addressed the topics of discipleship, self-denial, and determination.
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider conducted a divine service at the Imperial Royal Hotel in Kampala (Uganda) on Sunday, 31 March 2019. Some 2,300 people attended the service in Kampala directly, while another 87,000 in Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, and the rest of Kenya watched the broadcast. The Chief Apostle based his sermon on a passage from the gospel of Luke: “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9: 23).
Seeking help only or following Christ?
In Jesus’ time, many people came to Him to seek help from Him, only to leave Him again after. Even today people come to Jesus the way they go to a doctor, the Chief Apostle said. They ask for His help and are even prepared to pay for it, but as soon as their problem is solved, they go back to the same mode, he said. “Our relationship to Jesus is different. We want to be with Him and stay with Him. We want to follow Him and to enter into His kingdom. We want to become like Him.”
Referring to the mandate given to the Apostles, the Chief Apostle said, “The task of today’s Apostles is not to heal the sick or to give people advice on how to become rich. Jesus told them, ‘Baptise them and teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you.’ The Apostles’ task is to lead us into the kingdom of God.”
Anyone who wants to enter the kingdom of God must deny himself. The Chief Apostle pointed out three aspects that we need to consider:
- The teaching of Jesus, not your own way. “You cannot choose your own way into the kingdom of God. You must walk the way of God. He decides what is good and what is not good. He is the only one who decides what sin is and what it is not.”
- Grace, not merit: “Even if you are the best person in the world, you will never deserve salvation. Denying oneself means being aware that you need Jesus and His sacrifice in order to be saved.”
- New creation within us, not sinful nature: “All of us are human and sinners. We cannot enter the glory of God like this. In order to be able to enter into God’s kingdom, we must become a new creation: we must be reborn out of water and Spirit.”
Carrying the cross
The Chief Apostle went on to say that the image of the cross in this context is not to be understood as a synonym for burdens and problems. God never said that people were to be unhappy and suffer. In this context, the cross signifies something else, “As Christians we have renounced sin,” the Chief Apostle said.
“We have committed ourselves to renounce sin, to overcome it. Apostle Paul said that we died to sin. We have crucified sin and decided to crucify our sinful passions and desires.”
Discernible by our conduct
There is something else that is essential when following Christ, the Chief Apostle said: our conduct in our day-to-day life. “Depending on their religion, people often wear certain religious clothing. Others can recognise their belief by just looking at the way they are dressed. Other believers maintain, ‘We cannot eat this or that food because it is contrary to our religion.’ As Christians we can wear whatever we want, we can also eat whatever we want, but we cannot do everything,” the Chief Apostle said.
“People should be able to tell by our conduct that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. Because we can say, ‘Sorry, I can’t lie. Don’t ask me to do that. Sorry, but I can’t obtain money this way. I just can’t do it. Sorry, but I can’t treat my neighbour this way. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.”
Determined to follow Christ
In summing up, the Chief Apostle said that in order to enter the kingdom of God, we must give up our personal idea of salvation and merit and become a new creation in Christ. We must show determination and fight sin and remain faithful to Christ. And out of love for Jesus Christ we must focus on the Lord as our example.