Follow Me is a game we learned first as children. It’s a game of pursuit reduced to a single goal—just track the leader. It’s easy to play and carried more fun that its simplicity suggested. As children we played it as a game. We didn't know it would be repeated as our first faith steps with Christ.
What's the first step of faith?
Trace through the Gospels and you'll find this command of Jesus echoed more often than any other, “Follow Me!” Jesus spoke it as the primary step of discipleship in becoming fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). Jesus assumed that His sheep would hear His voice and follow (John 10:27). In fact, if we want to serve Jesus and be worthy of Him, we must learn to follow (John 12:26, Matthew 10:39).
There is no graduation from this pursuit. Until his final breath, Peter is commanded, “Follow Me” (John 21:19). Not all of those who heard took the first step. There were those who had too many obligations to attend to first (Luke 9:59). There was one who decided he couldn't follow, laden with wealth on his heart and mind (Mark 10:21).
The command of our Lord is clear. Faith begins and continues with a simple plan—stalk Jesus. The plan is simple but the execution of it isn't. You and I both admit that following Jesus is layered with struggles and questions.
Who are you?
We teach children not to follow strangers. Good advice for adults too! When Jesus calls us to accompany Him, we wonder, “Are you safe to follow?” We've been hurt by false promises and disappointed by good intentions. Warranties and guarantees haven't been enough protection, so we've learned to guard our lives with cynical walls and an independent style. Now Jesus wants us follow Him, not just once but always! We want to know if Jesus can be trusted. If you follow Jesus, He will press upon your fears and suspicion, and then answer them with grace “…let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart …” (Matthew 11:29).
Where are you going?
When I head out on a motorcycle ride with friends, I'm uncomfortable with the casual “Just follow me” approach. Tell me where we're headed! It's not that I don't trust my friends, it's that I don't trust the trip! So much can happen in the journey. I want to be armed with a map and destination. It's been my experience that Jesus prefers to keep the journey a secret. He doesn't consult me about the route of life or reassure me with a timeline and detailed end. He reminds me that He is safe and repeats, “Follow Me.” If you're the type who needs to know and be in charge (there's a few of us out there!) you'll need to let go of the steering wheel, turn off the GPS, stop the advice, and relax in the ride. Jesus knows where He's going!
Once the core questions of following are resolved, there are some practicalities of our pursuit that need to be mastered. Let me offer three and then close with goosebumps. To follow Jesus:
1. Keep Him in Sight
On a dark rainy night, as you drive behind your friend's car to an unknown address, don't lose those tail lights! They are all you've got. Jesus doesn't tell us where He is leading, so we must keep Him in view. As Hebrews teaches, we finish this run by “…keeping our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2).
2. Keep His Pace
To follow someone, you have to maintain his speed. I've found it a challenge to keep God's pace. He's not too fast, but too slow! I find myself way out front. Now I'm not following but leading. Jesus stops and waits for me to turn around. I'm learning that this is not a race. There is rest for my soul as I follow.
3. Keep His Pattern
There's an aspect of mimicry in following. I not only go where Jesus goes, but I do what Jesus does. We walk in His steps and keep His commands. Our life pattern should proclaim the One we are following.
We get to be with Jesus
Finally, I promised goosebumps. Here's good news! When you follow someone, you wind up where they are.
Following Jesus is not so much about destination but relationship. It's not about a place but a Person. Jesus is leading us that we might be with Him (John 17:24). This is an adventure of love. As we follow Jesus, He wants to get caught. In fact He is chasing us as well, so—
We are both the hunter and the hunted!
We seek and are sought for.
In our following God,
He runs to us
that we might
find and be found!