The Joy of Following Christ

by | Nov 20, 2009 | Spirit-Led Living

Sin and ill are the false notes struck by man across the
harmony of God’s will, and to strike upon or even remember such notes
is instant banishment from the music of His presence. Where all is joy,
there joy is all; and he who has not reached this joy does not know
God—he is still a follower, and not a possessor, and he should refuse
in his heart to remain satisfied with his condition, but climb on. Why
stay behind? Climb on, climb on!

Often I have been mystified and disturbed by the attitude
of many religious and pious people who appear to believe that to follow
Christ is a way of gloom, of sadness, of heaviness. Often I have
gathered from sermons that we are to give up all the bright and
enticing things if we would follow Him, and the preacher goes no
further!

Has the Lord, then, no enticements, no sweetnesses, no
brightness to offer us, that we should be asked to forsake all
pleasantness, all brightness, all attractions if we follow Him? This to
me always seemed terrible, and my heart would sink. Indeed, to my poor
mind and heart it seemed nothing more hopeful than a going from bad to
worse!

All the pictures I have seen of either the crucifixion or
the way of the cross (and especially those of more recent times and
painting) portray Christ’s blessed face all worn with gloom; and I know
now that this is far from the truth. For perfect love knows agony, but
no gloom. He went through all His agony, lifted high above gloom, in a
great ecstasy of love for us.

To speak of sacrifice in connection with following Jesus
is, to my mind, the work of a very foolish person and one in danger of
being blasphemous. For how dare we say that it is a sacrifice when, by
the putting away of foolish desires, we find God! And to find God,
through the following of Jesus Christ, is to gain so much (even in this
world, and without waiting for the next) that those who gain it never
cease to be amazed at the vastness of it.

We find this to be an absolute truth, that if we do not
have Him we have, and are, nothing, in comparison with that which we
are and that which we have when we have Him.

In my earlier stages I was greatly set back and disturbed
by this gloom and sacrifice (which is no sacrifice) of myself so put
forward by pulpit teaching. It was a great hindrance to me and blinded
me to the truth. I was only a normal, ordinary creature, and melancholy
pastors thrust a great burden into my arms.

Little by little, as I was able to learn directly from
His own heart, I came to know Him as He is; and I could not reconcile
the knowledge of Himself that He gave me, especially of His high
willingness and serenity, with pulpit teachings of heavy gloom. The
church too frequently spoke to me of following Him in terms that
conveyed a burden: “Pick up thy cross, pick up thy cross!” they cried;
and He spoke to me in terms that conveyed a great joy: “Come to Me,
come to Me, for I love thee!”

I thought I was very cowardly and sinned by this
inability to like the gloomy burden, and one day I came upon this out
of Jeremiah: “As for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that
shall say, The burden of the Lord, I will even punish that man and his
house. Because ye say this word, The burden of the Lord…I will
utterly forget you, and I will forsake you…and cast you out of My
presence” (Jer. 23:34,38-39, KJV).

Jesus did say, “‘Come, take up the cross, and follow Me’”
(Mark 10:21), but whoever obeys this commandment will be shown by Jesus
that the cross of following Him is no burden but a deliverance, a
finding of life, the way of escape, a great joy and a garland of love.

The world thinks of joyousness as being laughter,
cackling and much silly noise; and to such I do not speak. But Christ’s
joyousness is of a high, still, marvelous and ineffable
completeness—beyond all words—and wholly satisfying to heart and soul
and body and mind.

It is written, “He that loveth silver shall not be
satisfied with silver” (Eccl. 5:10). Why? Because only those who know
the gold of Christ are satisfied.

This is not to say that by following Him we shall escape
from the happenings and inconveniences and sorrows and illnesses that
are common to life; but that when these come we are raised out of our
distress into His ineffable peace.

When your heart is sad, use this sadness to come to a
better understanding of the deeper pain of Jesus, who was in the
self-same exile we are. The more the soul is truly awakened and
touched, the more she feels herself to be in exile; and this is her
cross.

But the remedy for her sadness is that she should
courageously pass out of her woes of exile and go up to meet her Lover
with smiles. Now, He cannot resist this smiling courage and love of the
soul, and very quickly He must send her His sweetness, and her sadness
is gone.

 The book from which this excerpt was taken, titled The Golden Fountain, was originally published in 1919 by John M. Watkins of London with the subtitle The Soul’s Love for God.
The only allusion to the author was the descriptive phrase under the
subtitle: “Being some Thoughts and Confessions of One of His Lovers.”

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