Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Follow the Leader

The point of this blog is to refresh those of us in ministry--and we should all be involved in full-time ministry whether or not we receive financial compensation. Jesus was not about blocks of time, divvying up work, home, friends, fun, and "ministry" or church. When He says, "Follow me," that's what He means. You. Follow. Me.

Jesus wasn't referring to changed behavior, although that should happen. He wasn't referring to being homeless or eating a specific diet, taking on political figures or drawing large crowds. So what did He mean?

- You. Whomever "you" are. God gave you a specific temperament (Psalm 139). He put you in a specific place at a specific point in time (Acts 17:26-27). He already knows every day of your life (Psalm 139:16). You are you. God made you that way. He designed and purposed your work, life, marriage, family, ministry, environment, location, friends, etc. He knows exactly who and where you are. So when Jesus, through His Word and by His Spirit, says, "Come," He isn't expecting someone different. He's talking to you, and He knows who you are. He's not disappointed or surprised to discover your failings or struggles. He is calling you for your benefit (not His--although the goal is His glory).

- Follow. Based on social media, we think "follow" means I can experience your life vicariously. That was not the meaning of the word in 1st century Israel. The literal interpretation is, "come." When Jesus calls us to follow, He intends for us to go to Him (versus our liberal interpretation of Him coming to me, serving me, answering me, caring for me). Going to Jesus, following Jesus, means I give up my desires, plans, and modus operandi. I learn of Him (Matthew 11:28-30). When confronted with a dilemma, personal struggle or sin, I seek to address it the way Jesus would. He is my reason for living. Pleasing Him is my goal (2 Corinthians 5:9, 15). I choose to leave behind what others value, what I once valued, and put Jesus front and center. I no longer measure myself any standard but His because He bought me with His precious blood (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Peter 1:18-19). I belong to Him. I am His slave and bond servant. He is my master (Luke 17:7-10).

- Me. Who is this Jesus? I must know Him to follow Him. I cannot follow Jesus if I am not reading His Word and submitting myself to its truth. I am not following Jesus if I don't care to talk to Him. To go to Him, to follow the way He leads is to love others more than myself. To follow Jesus is to give up my "rights," to be humbled and humiliated, to sacrifice for others, to please and obey God. To follow Jesus is not a list of doing, but a way of being. It is leaning on God instead of myself; trusting God to provide instead of worrying or seeking control. There is more to Jesus than I can every put into words or begin to know and understand in a single human lifetime. But God has given me enough. His Spirit, Word, and people can and will actively guide me in Christlikeness when He is at the center.

So the question: Am I following Jesus? How am I following Him today? This moment? If not, what needs to change? If so, how am I praising and thanking Him? That is clear evidence of His presence.

 All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.

"All the Way My Savior Leads Me" by Fanny Crosby, 1875

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