“Follow me!” Those two words concisely make up Jesus’ call, not just to His disciples, but all of us who claim to believe on His name. Two words with influence; but what does it really mean to be a follower? I’ve been contemplating these words all week, especially in light of some of the discussions I’ve been overhearing. Discussions about “those Christians.” “Those Christians” don’t have a very good reputation. “Those Christians” are really bad tippers in restaurants. “Those Christians” don’t keep their word. “Those Christians” are hypocrites. “Those Christians” are judgmental. “Those Christians” come off with the assumption that everyone they meet is headed for hell in a hand-basket before they even know a person’s story. “Those Christians” are ignorant about the world and it’s pain. “Those Christians” dislike anyone who disagrees with them. “Those Christians” take themselves too seriously. Here’s a good one: “Those Christians” are more concerned about numbers (AKA: notches in their Bible) than they are about Jesus. Of course, the most often heard: “Those Christians” are such hypocrites. The un-churched don’t dislike Jesus; they dislike Christians. I have to say that I don’t disagree with some of the commentary. The name “Christian” has a poor reputation, not just in our world, around the entire globe. Not just off church campuses, but on them, as well. I know one thing: I don’t want to be a Christian anymore. (Read on before you panic…)
Interestingly, Jesus never used the word “Christian.” Christians were first called by that name at Antioch. It was a term coined by unbelievers because they didn’t know what else to call these fanatical people. It was, in many a sense, a term of persecution and derision as the folks at Antioch spit out the word, meaning “Little Christ’s.” They meant it like a swear word. On the other hand, Jesus consistently used the word “follower.” I like the word follower. I want to be a Jesus-follower. Here’s why:
A follower isn’t perfect; a follower is a learner. A follower is allowed to make mistakes. “They are just a follower.” I’m human. I’m gonna make mistakes. I’m going to slip and be judgmental; at times, I may make assumptions I shouldn’t; I may be ignorant and hypocritical. Yep, I may even take myself too seriously...way too seriously. I may behave badly, and not look at all like Jesus. Yet, there’s a little extra grace given for a follower. I know that because of my hikes up in the national forest with my husband. I am a s.L.O.wWwWwwWwW follower. I can’t quite keep up. I can’t always go in just the exact places my leader takes me. Sometimes, I have to circumvent his steps and go around a different way – and, when I do, I often get myself into more trouble than if I take the time to go where his steps lead. Sometimes, I slip and fall (OK, a lot of times). Yet, my guide rather expects this of me. He knows my size 6.5 can’t quite keep up with his 16’s. He doesn’t jump all over me; get irritable and angry, because I get it wrong, stumble, and sometimes fall. In fact, he doesn’t just impatiently stand and wait for me to catch up. Sometimes, all of the time really, he retraces his steps and comes back to lend me his hand and make sure I get back on track. He loves me in my failure, and knows that, eventually, I will get it right (even though, eventually, in my case, is probably a long time in the future distance). After all, I am just a follower (for now). Followers get more grace from the guide; and I give myself more grace in my following, as a result. I don’t want to be a Christian anymore. I just want to be known as a follower…………………; and, while one day I may be called on to lead, by the time that happens, my lessons in learning may have increased my skill level. I know this, because the leader will never call unless he has equipped first! The biggest question I must ask myself is this: Am I really following? Oh, and, “How closely am I following?”
Please, though, don’t introduce me to your friends as a Christian.
Chew on these verses with the above in mind:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 1 Peter 1:2-7