What Does It Mean to Follow?
Last time, in Whose Light Are You Following?, I talked about Jesus as our “L” light and the wonderful fact that we don’t have to wander aimlessly through life not knowing who we are or where we’re going. In case you missed it, click HERE.
This week, I want to talk about something that is very hard for many, many people - following. We all want to lead or go our own way, but Jesus is clear that he's the One to follow (Matt. 10:38). So what does it mean to actually follow him anyway? This seems so cliche, but it's really quite practical.
"To follow" is a much richer concept than you realize. For instance, look at all of the definitions of “follow” as it relates to following someone or something:
To come or go after; proceed behind
To go after in pursuit
To move along the course of
To move in the direction of; be guided by
To lie in the same path as
To accept the guidance, command, or leadership of
To adhere to; practice:
To take as a model or precedent; imitate
To act in agreement or compliance with; obey
To keep to or stick to
To come after in order, time, or position
To watch or observe closely
To be attentive to; pay close heed to
To keep oneself informed of the course, progress, or fortunes of
To grasp the meaning or logic of; understand
We all follow something, even those who profess not to have a god. But in John 8:12, Jesus says to the Christian, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’”
The phrase “he who follows me” is the one who chooses to be a Jesus’ companion, someone who makes a conscious decision to unite with Christ to go his way, selecting sides with him in this life and the one to come. It comes from the Greek word akoloutheo, so a follower would be an akolouthos -- a disciple.
When a person decides to follow or unite with Jesus, Jesus becomes their Light, their way -- the illuminating source in their life. Because of Jesus, we can know what life is really meant to look like. We can know what a godly marriage is supposed to look like; what a godly home is meant to be like; even what true manhood or womanhood really is! He is our role model and, lucky for us, He provided both His Holy Scriptures to read and study to know what to do and what not to do (2 Tim. 3:16), and the Holy Spirit to guide us and remind us of what He said (John 14:26).
If you follow Jesus wholeheartedly, try to do these things to grow in your followership:
Surround your self with others who follow Jesus, so you can learn from their example and see what wise living looks like in the here and now. Today’s culture isn’t reliable, so be careful who you choose. Listen to their stories; allow them to speak into your life about things that could make your life go better; ask questions and glean the godly truths that Jesus has shown them already.
Read your Bible and really get in there and study it. Tear it apart book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and word by word if you have to. There are tremendous online resources, such as Bible Hub, biblia.com, blueletterbible.com, biblegateway.com, and more.
Listen to podcasts of the great Bible teachers of our day, apologists like Ravi Zacharias and Timothy Keller; buy and read books of authors who are inspired to write down what God guides them to write (of course, as you might guess, one of my favorite teachers is Gil Stieglitz!).
Go to Bible study classes at your local church in your community. There are many non-denominational classes you can attend that aren’t church-affiliated, such as Bible Study Fellowship or Community Bible Study, but I recommend picking one at your local church so you can get to know the people that go there.
Pray. Pray each day multiple times a day, and especially before big decisions. Pray that the Holy Spirit, the Light of Life, will guide you and illuminate the way.
The tools are all there. We’re all without excuse, my friends. You don’t have to live in darkness any longer, that is, unless you just like living that way. But who would knowingly live in the dark?
As the Light, the answer is Jesus every time. Take advantage of Him!
I would love to hear from you about some of the ways Jesus has been your source of light. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, a great life is only as great as its relationships!
P.S. Check out previous Life Is Relationships issues. Click here to visit our blog.
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