I have been thinking a lot about Jesus' call - "follow me" that is prevalent throughout his life and imperative for Christians and disciples. We have strayed so far in the church and in our own lives from the importance of these two words. "Follow Me"
I was dialoging with a friend about this topic this week and after Secret Church last night, (6hrs of solid teaching from David Platt), I thought I would share some of the things that have challenged me as I have reflected on the importance of being a Christ follower.
The dictionary defines the word "follow" like so:
follow - to imitate in behavior
follow - to behave in accordance or in agreement with
follow - to travel behind, go after, come after
follow - to follow in or as if in pursuit
follow - to follow with the eyes or the mind
follow - to accept and follow the leadership or command or guidance of
Growing up I did a lot of hiking and backpacking. ( If MS wasn't so flat you can bet I would do more of it now!)
My favorite thing to do towards the end of a long day with many miles of trail behind me, was to position myself behind my dad in the single file line as we neared the end of our ascent. When I was climbing behind him, I could almost draft... in a walking sort of way. The pressure was off. I wasn't setting the pace, I just had to keep up... keep in step. Also, as we climbed I could follow in his footsteps as he preselected and tested footholds. Stepping where he stepped, and following his footfalls, required less forethought and effort. All I had to do was just follow.
Of course, I couldn't see the trail from behind my dad and his huge pack, (with the exception of an occasional glimpse of the summit), but I could see just far enough. I could just see a few steps ahead of me. Oh! ...and, as a daddy's girl, the best part was that I was close to him, walking with him...my life was
made! Those are some of the best memories of my childhood and of my dad.
If only I would daily apply them to my spiritual walk now!
In the following passages Jesus is telling people from all walks of life to follow him.
Luke 9:23-26 "And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
Matt 4:19 "& I will make you fishers of men"
Matt 8:22 "And Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead."
(Mark 1:17 ESV) And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men."
(John 10:4 ESV) When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
Matt 16:24 & Mark 8:34 -deny yourself and take up your cross
Luke 5:27 - to a tax collector
With the rich young ruler what one thing did Jesus require from him?
(Mark 10:21 ESV) " And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:37-39 ESV)
In all of these verses the call is clear. Follow Me. Take up your cross, deny yourself loose your life and follow Me!
The second thing that is clear, is that it requires sacrifice from us. (Matt 10:37-39)
Amy Carmichael says it well;
"Missionary life is simply a chance to die."
The cost of following Christ and the cost of being a disciple are the same. Following Christ is an opportunity to die. Death to self, death to sin - through Christ, and physical death. Most of the disciples died martyrs deaths. Are we this serious about our confession of faith where death isn't necessarily a threat, yet persecution is eminent? Will we hold to our confession with an unrelenting surety? Our destiny is secure, our hope profound and the way to find life is by giving our lives away. But do we live this radically? Are we passionate about accelerating Christ's return and and saving souls from an eternal, fiery, torment in hell? Or are we content to sit on the sidelines.
Today, I'm thankful that Jesus didn't take a sidelines approach when he died to purchase my wretched life. He walked in perfect obedience, perfect submission to the Father's will. Will we in turn, walk in obedience, in-step with Christ? Will we... Will you follow Christ ... Even to death?
"We do not know the value of Christ, if we will not cleave to Him unto death!"
Robert Murray McCheyne
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Tertullian
"No one makes us afraid or leads us into captivity as we have set our faith on Jesus. For though we are beheaded, and crucified, and exposed to beasts and chains and fire and all other forms of torture, it is plain that we do not forsake the confession of our faith, but the more things of this kind which happen to us the more are there others who become believers... through the name of Jesus."
"Never did the church so much prosper and so truly thrive as when she was baptized in the blood. The ship of the church never sails so gloriously along as when the bloody spray of her martyrs falls on her deck. We must suffer and we must die; if we are to ever conquer this world for Christ." Charles Spurgeon
Lord, thank you for your perfect, shepherding example, for humbling yourself and taking on a human frame so that we could follow in your footsteps. Thank you for dying in my place and taking the punishment I deserve upon yourself. Thank you for calling me to follow you! Thank you that you give me clear footsteps to follow in. Thank you that I can't see too far ahead, just the next steps you show me. Words don't express.... Thank you! You are Good! You are more than I deserve, all I need and the motivation of my life and death. I willing, joyfully, lay down my life to follow you! Help me, uphold me, lead me.
"He makes His ministers a flame of fire. Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of 'other things'. Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul - short life? ... Make me thy fuel, Flame of God." - Jim Elliot