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Become A Follower

April 30th, 2009

Focus Passage: Proverbs 14: 2 (NLT)

 2 Those who follow the right path fear the Lord;
      those who take the wrong path despise him.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

The term “Christian” was originally coined as a derogatory label of the fanatical followers of a revolutionary prophet whom the Romans had executed and whose disciples claimed was alive again.  Over time, the contextual and societal contexts of being a “Christian” have changed.  When one hears the word, they don’t necessarily think of Jesus and His message.  They probably think of whatever experience they have had with the religious institutions that have evolved out of the movement over the past two-thousand years.

Maybe the mental connotation is hypocrisy.  Maybe it’s weak-mindedness.  Maybe self-righteousness.  Maybe it’s philanthropy.  Grace.  Forgiveness.  Whatever the mental association, it is generally based off of an experience with the religion that attempts to enshroud Christianity with structure and systems.

Ah, but forget not that the original definition had nothing to do with these things.  It simply meant that someone followed Jesus!

To follow someone, you must be willing to go where they go.  To do what they do.  To speak how they speak.  One cannot travel in two different directions simultaneously.  Similarly, it is impossible to live in two different countries at the same time.  No, we must leave one to travel to the other.  We must turn our backs on one direction in order to travel to the other.  There is no dual citizenship in eternal matters.

Relationally, this is true as well.  A young man must break up with one girl if he is to marry another . . . well, hopefully.  Much trouble awaits the individual who clings to two different, conflicting lifestyles.  In reality, he or she actually clings to nothing because it is only a matter of time before there is a cataclysmic collision of the two worlds . . . producing a life-altering explosion of destruction.

Such is true when we possess the label “Christ-follower” but don’t actually go where Jesus is going.  To follow, we must do what He does.  Say what He says.  Think how He thinks.  The footprints left by His steps should be the very path that we mimic.  If we claim to follow, we must acknowledge where He is going, turn our back on the path we were traveling before, and actually follow Him.

Into love.  Into forgiveness.  Into danger.  Into selflessness.  Into situations that have no room for self-preservation or promotion.  Into adventure.  Even into death.

This passage alludes to this truth: “Those who follow the right path fear the Lord; those who take the wrong path despise him.”  Notice the term “follow.”  Again, it denotes that one isn’t leading, but rather choosing to humbly let another path be chosen for him or herself.  

Christians shouldn’t be trailblazers, but rather trail followers.  I don’t mean that we shouldn’t be on the cutting edge of culture or that we shouldn’t lead in the marketplace or in philanthropic endeavors.  I simply mean that the plans and steps of Jesus will lead us into the ultimate effectiveness and we must be willing to follow . . . even when that means cleaning toilets, visiting prisons, or giving a cup of water to a dirt-laden youngster on the playground.

Those who follow their own path usually don’t think that they are “despising” God.  That seems pretty harsh.  What this passage means is that our inaction in following the path that Jesus has laid before us is actually an action unto itself.  We can’t have it both ways– by choosing our own path, we despise His path for us.

Following Jesus doesn’t work unless we actually abandon our original path.  Otherwise, we’re simply wearing the label of “Christ-follower” when in actuality we are miles away from where He is leading.

It’s never too late for a course correction.  I want today to be a day of following.  I want to be a follower.


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