At A Distance

Matthew 16:24-25

When it suits their needs they profess Me. But when faith in Me becomes radical, and polarizing, they follow at a distance and even fall away. I say whoever wants to be my disciple must take up their cross and follow Me.

Crucify their flesh, not glorify their flesh. You will know my true disciples by their fruit- the fruit they bear for My kingdom. Everything else is rotten- not suitable for harvest. It will be burned up.

Choose this day who you will serve: your earthly agenda or My eternal one; your goals, or My commands; your lusts or My righteousness. Just as Peter denied me, so my “church” is denying Me, and the day is coming where I will deny ever knowing you.

Repent while there is still time. Put away the deeds of darkness and come back to the light of my Son’s glory. Be made pure again. Do the things you did at first, and do not forsake your first love.

Let’s look at some verses to provide some context to what God is saying here:

Peter’s Allegiance To Jesus

Mark 14:27 says, “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” Jesus is quoting a prophecy spoken about him in Zechariah while telling his disciples that they will all scatter like sheep when he is captured and taken to be crucified. It was at this moment that Peter exclaimed, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” Jesus said, “I tell you the truth,” “today- yes, tonight– before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” And the Bible says, “But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you,’ and all the other disciples said the same.”

Peter’s Denial

In Luke 22:4 says, (after Jesus was arrested) “Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. ” He was accused by a servant girl about being with Jesus, and he denied it. He was accused by a man, and Peter denied a second time. Yet a third time, he denied knowing Jesus by calling down curses on himself after being accused by another random person. The bible says, “Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord has spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”

Crucify Their Flesh, Not Glorify Their Flesh

I’m going to talk about life in the flesh versus life in the spirit for a moment. When the flesh and spirit are spoken of together, they are meant to provide the contrasting nature of the two. Flesh represents what is worldly while the spirit represents the heavenly, and supernatural. God’s order. We humans are made of flesh and come alive in the spirit when Jesus is invited into our hearts. The work of a new believer is a life-long pursuit of crucifying one’s self from worldliness while being made more alive in the spirit.

James 4:1-17 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. “

Anything that aligns with flesh and worldliness opposes God. Let that settle in your mind and spirit for a moment.

Choose This Day

There are those who might be attending church, who might be professing a christian life, who are speaking the name of Jesus but running their personal agenda. The bible says in James to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” You are deceived if you think a teaspoon of Jesus is enough to base your plans and your life on. You cannot operate with a secular world-view and call yourself a Christian- there are NO exceptions. And if your real life (a.k.a., the words you speak, the palatable version of the Jesus you’ve created to justify your worldly living) causes others to question the authenticity of the gospel, you my friend, are not a true disciple. I don’t judge you- the word of God does. The word of the Lord spoken to you today says, “Choose this day who you will serve!” I don’t believe Jesus is poking Peter, but he’s using his example to tell you, no matter what you profess, it’s time to take an honest look at where you stand. Do you really pursue Jesus? Do you follow beside him or at a distance?

The definition of distance: an amount of space between two things or people; to make (someone or something) far off or remote in position or nature.

Disciples aren’t distant. That’s insufficient in God’s eyes. You might even be wearing your Jesus shirt in some crowds and your worldly shirt in other crowds. You can call it two-faced, lukewarm. If you’re giving Jesus the long arm in any way in your life, you’re following him at a distance. Or maybe you’re not really following him at all. If you’re feeling convicted by this, I pray you’ll go to God in repentance today.

Grace isn’t cheap. Stop treating the spilled blood of Jesus for your sin like it’s no big deal. It cost you nothing, but it cost him everything. Calling Him Lord and doing whatever you want doesn’t make you his disciple or his precious ambassador, let alone a mouthpiece for God. Reading a sentence of scripture out of context and calling it quiet time doesn’t suffice. Neither do excuses. You’ve got time for everything you want to do. You’ve got time to make money. You’ve got time to travel, be with your family, and make happy hours. We prioritize what we value MOST, and those are just facts. Thank God for His grace, that He continues to be patient with you… for now. I encourage you to take inventory of your life for imbalances. As disciples, we should be walking the walk before we ever open up our mouths to talk the talk.

Matthew 7:21-23 says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

This definition of disciple encapsulates the characteristics of a TRUE disciple of Jesus:

Disciple – someone who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and is committed to the mission of Jesus (Matt. 4:19). Disciple making – entering into relationships to help people trust and follow Jesus (Matt. 28:18–20), which includes the whole process from conversion through maturation and multiplication (

Repent & Be Restored While There Is Still Time

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “and My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.

Romans 13:11-14 says, “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

And lastly, spoken to one of the 7 churches in Revelation, the Church at Ephesus, “…But I have this against you: You have abandoned your first love. Therefore, keep in mind how far you have fallen. Repent and perform the deeds you did at first. But if you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Ephesus was between Laodicea (symbolic of lukewarm believers) and Babylon (symbolic of full-on worldliness). So, somewhere between lukewarm and the devil’s city is Ephesus. During John’s exile at Patmos, the Lord speaks about Ephesus. He compliments them on their good works, but rebukes them for leaving their first love (Revelation 2:4). He challenges to them to take immediate action: repent, remember, and begin again (Revelation 2:5).

I pray you heed this sober warning. Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:14 KJV). I wish I could say that the narrow path is full of Jesus-trekkers, but culture and the world today really show us that it’s probably not that crowded. I’d go as far as to say the narrow path is mostly wide open.

Are you following Him in name only, merely at a distance, or are you truly all in and following Him as His disciple today?

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