Have you ever followed someone like your life depended on it?
A few years ago we took the youth group on a day trip during the summer, the day had several activities planned but the highlight was a trip spelunking! Spelunking is the process of caving and going deep into caves in the earth and exploring. This particular trip was a guided one and we took a group of about 30 with us to go into this cave.
Something you should know about me, I have several (rational) fears, of which is being stuck somewhere. So the idea of crawling through a cave, yes sometimes on my belly because you couldn’t fit through otherwise, was terrifying. In fact, from the moment we entered my fears were being challenged, entry into the cave was through this tiny hole that you had to crawl through. From there it opened up some but became narrow at places, it became low in some places, there was one part where we had to army crawl about 20 feet to get through.
Anytime I’m in a group, especially with our youth group, I like to be in the back. From there I can see that everyone is safe, that we don’t have stragglers, etc. So on this trip, I also tried to hang around the back. Which was great but you also had to pay close attention because the cave had all kinds of twists and turns, the idea of being separated from the group and trying to navigate this cave by myself was horrifying. So, I followed very closely. I never let the last couple of people get out of my sight.
Why? Because I knew if I were in that cave alone, there would be no way I could survive. I would wander around aimlessly until I eventually gave up and accepted my fate.
As Christians, this is exactly how we should follow Jesus. We should follow Him as our lives depend on it, because, well they do. Without Jesus we find ourselves wandering through life aimlessly with no clear mission or purpose. We find ourselves constantly lost and seeking purpose and assurance in things that could never fulfill those roles for us. We will seek purpose in work, in finances, in relationships, in impressing others, in the size of our house, in the model of our car, etc. The problem is, all of those things will one day come to an end.
You will one day retire and work will no longer fulfill you. One day, you’ll realize how much joy the collection of money brings when you’ve lost relationships, people are no longer impressed, when you get tired of that big house and your car is still the fastest one around but you’re the slowest driver. All of these things will one day fail us, that’s why we cannot place our faith in earthly treasures but we seek out heavenly things.
What does it look like to truly follow Jesus?
Let’s be honest, a lot of people say they “follow Jesus.” But how many live like Jesus? Words are ok but actions speak much louder, you’ll notice the word “follow” is an action. It would have been useless for me to say I was following the group in the cave if I didn’t actually follow them. I would still be just as lost and hopeless as I was before I said I would follow them. The same is true for our relationship with Jesus.
Stating that you are following Jesus is useless without the action of actually following Him.
In first-century Jerusalem, it was not uncommon for a rabbi to call a young man to be his disciple. This rabbi would likely call several young men to “follow him.” They would do so, they would spend each and every day following the rabbi, learning from him. Talking like he talked, walking like he walked, acting how he acted, teaching as he taught, etc. They would learn to perfectly imitate him.
Jesus is a rabbi that has called all Christians to be His disciples. We are called to follow Him, walk as He walked, talk as He talked, act how He acted, love how He loves. To follow Jesus is an action, it is something that we do, not something we say. Words will only get us so far, we must follow Jesus.
James said it like this:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
It’s not enough to just say something if you are not going to act on it. Faith must be accompanied by action. It’s not enough to just say, “I’ll pray for you.” You must actually pray for that person. It’s not enough to just say “Yeah, I have a bible.” You must actually read it for it to change you. It’s not enough to just say “I follow Jesus.” You must actually do it!
A life following Jesus won’t be easy, it wasn’t meant to be. There will be days where you stumble, where you walk astray, where you slip and fall. There will be hard times but
Isaiah 43:2 says:
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
When life gets tough, when you mess up, when bad things happen. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is still there and He is calling you to follow Him. Other rabbis would denounce a disciple if he made a mistake. Jesus walked up to Peter when he denied Him and calls him to feed His sheep. He calls him into ministry still.
Your ability and invitation to follow Jesus isn’t reliant on your ability to be perfect. It’s reliant on your ability to actually try and follow Him. He doesn’t expect perfection, in fact, He died for our imperfection.
Go out today and live a life that imitates Christ. Don’t know where to start? Pick up your bible and begin reading the words of Jesus in the gospels.
Read the words in Red.
Start here if you don’t have a physical bible: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+1&version=NIV