Who Are You Following?

If you would like to listen to this devotional, please click here

Dear Friends,
Who Are You Following?



Who are you following? We all follow someone or something. It may be a sports personality, a pop group, a film star, some other celebrity, etc. With social media, there are more and more ways to follow others, such as via Facebook or Twitter.

Who or what we follow shows where our real interests lie, it shows what's important to us. We learn everything we can about the person we are following. We copy them and are influenced by them. We spend time and money in our pursuit of following them. 

These things become a problem when they take the place of the only one who is worth following. When they take the place of Jesus in our life.


Following Jesus means:

1. Hearing and Responding to His Call

When Jesus walked this earth, he called people to follow him, to be his disciples. For example in Matthew 9:9 we read As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. (NLT)

The Hebrew term for "Follow me" means "Walk after me" and is the technical term in Hebrew for becoming a disciple. For a disciple, learning from their teacher would mean travelling because the teacher was always moving from place to place, and a disciple was required to follow after him. (This can be seen of Jesus with his disciples in the Gospels.)

A disciple experienced everyday life with their teacher. As they went through the day the disciple would have opportunities to ask questions and the teacher would also pose questions to his disciples in order to encourage moments for learning, discussion, exploring the scriptures, understanding what they meant and how they were to be lived out in their own lives. 

Jesus' disciples learnt what it meant to be his disciples by observing him and his encounters with people and listening to his teaching. Jesus revealed to his disciples more of who God is, more about God's will and more about God's ways. 


Jesus still calls people today to come to him, to follow him, to be his disciples. In today's language, instead of using the word 'disciple' we would say a student/learner, a follower, an apprentice.


Matthew 11:28-30 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (NLT)

To take on the yoke of their teacher meant the disciple would follow their teacher's instructions and interpretation of the law and scriptures. Their teacher was the authority on how to live out the law. There were over 600 laws and instructions a disciple was expected to know and obey.

Can you imagine how hard this must have been! It must have been such a heavy yoke, such a heavy burden to bear! 

Jesus, however, offered his disciples (and also offers us) a much easier, lighter yoke to bear. He had a far greater understanding of God's laws and God's Word (scriptures). He taught his disciples that his way of life was one of love and forgiveness and grace, that it was about a real, day to day relationship with him rather than striving to follow the rituals and rules of a religion. 

As the teacher lived and taught his understanding of scripture his disciples listened, watched and imitated him so as to become like him. 

Luke 6:40 Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher. (NLT)

For us, as his disciples, it's not just about knowing what Jesus knows, it's also about becoming like him - in word, thought and deed. 

Although we cannot literally walk with Jesus as his first disciples did, we do have his presence with us through his Holy Spirit and we can learn to walk with him and follow his leading. 

Galatians 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (NIV) 


2. Accepting the Cost 

Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (The Message) 

A disciple is someone who accepts the call to sacrifice their will and follow Jesus wherever he leads. A disciple surrenders their desire for control over to Jesus and submits to his authority. A disciple gives up their old way of living, their old life and accepts the gift of a new life and a new way of living. 

Yes, it costs to follow Jesus, but I can tell you from my experience, that the cost is so worth it. Giving Jesus your life means saving your soul, receiving eternal life. It means experiencing a lasting, loving relationship with someone who will never walk out on you, never abuse you, never give up on you. It means knowing real lasting hope, peace, joy, comfort and security. 


3. Being Committed

Discipleship is about making a commitment to a relationship in which Jesus is my teacher. It means demonstrating a whole-hearted commitment to Jesus in all areas of our lives – relationships, finance, work life, social life, family life, church life etc. 

Our commitment is not only to Jesus, it is also to one another. It's about being disciples together, doing life together. Being a disciple is not easy but it certainly helps when we spend time together. When we can explore together what it really means to live as Jesus' disciples. When we encourage, support, motivate and challenge each other. 

Not only does this help as we follow Jesus, we also have the gift of his Holy Spirit with us who enables and empowers us to live this life Jesus has called us to. Without him, it would just not be possible.

To Think About:
Have I heard and responded to Jesus' call to follow him? If so, how closely am I following?

What do I benefit if I gain the whole world but lose my own soul? Is anything worth more than my soul? (Matthew 16:24-26) Is following Jesus worth the cost?

Will I willingly submit every aspect of my life – my career, values, family, possessions, finance, character, motivations, attitudes, everything – to the authority of Jesus? Am I holding anything back?

Vicki

Today's blog was based on a sermon I gave on 'Being a Disciple of Jesus'. If you would like to listen to it, please click here

If what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon, on Kindle or in paperback. (Its content is material adapted from past blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below:

























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