The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”
Have you ever played the child’s game Follow the Leader? As adults in this culture, we’re not groomed to be followers; we celebrate and lift up leaders. Even in the military, where following orders is critical to the mission, followers aim to move up through the ranks. The fine art of following seems to be left to children’s games.
But Jesus sought followers. He went out and called them, and they dropped everything and followed him. They followed him even though the path did not lead to glory and fame but rather to some places far outside their comfort zones.
I wonder if Jesus came into our houses of worship today and issued the call to follow would he find any takers? Even in first century Palestine there were many people who couldn’t follow Jesus because of family, business, or personal reasons. Why should one expect it to be any different today?
Can you imagine some of the reasons we’d give for not following? “I really need to see the (insert name of pro sports team here) play this afternoon.” “I have to get my financial house in order first.” “I’m right in the middle of a really big project at work.” “Will there be DSL and cell service where you’re going? Maybe not? Well, I can’t leave my Blackberry behind!” “I can’t leave all my stuff behind. I have to go home and pack. Can I bring a 24-foot U-Haul truck?”
You get the point. Our lives are complicated. We have lots of “stuff” and many entanglements. We are dependent on our technology and entertainment outlets. Most of us lead comfortable lives. We like control too much; we like the trappings of our lives too much.
So how are we Christians supposed to respond to a 21st century call to follow Jesus? Just what does this mean, and how does it affect our individual and collective senses of identity?
I can’t answer that question; only you are equipped to listen for Jesus and hear the call to follow and what that means in your life. For me it means continuing to shed “stuff.” Yep, I’d be the one with the U-Haul, although I’d require a much smaller truck at this point. Some day I hope to be able to fit what I need and value in the trunk of my car. Right now Jesus has called me to the plains of rural North Dakota. Beyond that I haven’t a clue where I will be called to follow.
Jesus calls each one of us to follow him. Our job is to listen for and discern that call. It may mean giving up things, places, and people we treasure. It may not. It may mean strengthening your following right where you are. It may mean making some lifestyle adjustments. It may mean enhancing your stewardship of time, talents, and resources. It may indeed mean being equipped for leadership. You’ll never know what it means until you decide with all your heart, mind, body, and being to follow the One who calls you.
Copyright (c) 2009, The Rev. Sharron Lucas, all rights reserved. Used by permission.