but it’s possible to try and follow His principles/teaching. There’s a vast, night-and-day difference between following Jesus, and trying to follow His principles. All earnest Christians I know, myself included, work hard at following His principles. And some nonChristians I know, really like some of His principles and try to follow them. But neither Christian or nonChristian trying to follow His principles, experience the abundant LIFE He promises to those who follow Him.
In order for me to follow Him, He must do a supernatural work in my life. A miracle. Each time His Spirit freshly convicts me of my sin of independence, of me trying to be lord/shepherd/CEO of my own life, it feels easy and natural to follow Him. The miracle of fresh conviction of the sin of independence, is what enables me, empowers me, motivates me, to follow Him. But it doesn’t last long usually, because the world, the flesh and the devil want me independent, leaning on my own understanding, being wise in my own eyes, as I attempt to captain my own soul, master my own fate. And I’m easily snookered into believing a lie, that happiness, abundant LIFE, can be found by my controlling/managing my life circumstances. I only experience abundant LIFE, when following Jesus.
How can I tell when I’m following Jesus, or trying to follow His principles? I know I’m following Jesus when I have a healthy indifference to all the things that charm me most, especially my primary areas of idolatry: relationships, ministry, investments, health, hobbies. I know I’m following Jesus, when my joy and peace have nothing to do with my circumstances, and this is easier to see, when my circumstances are really harrrd: when my idols are threatened. I know I’m following Jesus when I am asking Him about everything, and thanking Him about everything, because I don’t know what’s best for me and those I love, and so I don’t know what’s thankable and what’s not. I know I’m following Jesus when I’m freshly wowed by Him and His amazing love for such a failure as I, to the point where I hardly care about anything else.
What do I do when I realize I’m trying to follow His principles instead of following Him? I ask folks to pray for the Spirit to freshly convict me of my sin of independence, and I pray that way for myself.
–ShepherdDave, always needing prayer to be DumbSheepDave, freshly wowed by his Shepherd, curious and expectant to see what his Shepherd will do next, how his Shepherd will provide the abundant LIFE that deeply satisfies, so the pre-believers around him will be wowed by the Shepherd of DumbSheepDave, and want this same LIFE (please pray now)