Followings

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Would you like to share your grandmother’s recipes with anyone who would like to have them? Start a blog and have people follow you. Are you interested in knowing more about someone? Follow him on his website, Facebook page, Twitter account or any other social media channel he has set up. Are you particularly interested in what a news reporter has to say? Follow her. It is easy to do, costs nothing and if you lose interest, you can easily unfollow. With one click of the mouse, you are no longer keeping up with someone you previously had interest in.

A popular children’s game is “follow the leader”. While the game is being played, one person has control. Everyone else needs to duplicate his actions. Players who fail to do what the leader does are out of the game. Once the game is over, the leader reverts to being like everyone else. In many cases, the leader becomes the follower as another child takes over the position of leader.

A public figure – political, sports star, movie star, etc. – often has a following – a body of admirers who are interested in what that person has to say, where they are and what they are doing. Anyone can watch news reports, read newspaper or magazine articles or employ the social media available in order to keep up with the person he is interested in.

A social media following, a game where you follow a leader and being part of a following of a public figure lasts as long as your curiosity does. At any time, you can quit following someone on social media, you can stop playing the game and you can decide you are no longer interested in what your favorite public figure does. These are temporary followings.

People are fickle. The following you once had on your blog may diminish as they become interested in someone else’s ideas. Although time consuming, none of these followings are life changing. It is your choice to follow or not to follow. For the most part, these followings are trivial; having no lasting consequences.

When you decide to follow Jesus, it is eternally life changing. Everything He does is worth observing. Everything He says is worth remembering. When you choose to follow Jesus, life takes on new meaning. The example He gave is worth following.

The invitation Jesus gives to follow him does have consequences. That choice should be permanent, not temporary. No one can replace Him as leader. Following Jesus comes with great reward as well as great potential for persecution. Following Jesus requires a denial of self. Following Jesus requires an undivided heart. You cannot follow Jesus and anything or anyone else.

This truth was expressed beautifully in an old public domain hymn, lyrics attributed to S. Sundar Singh.

I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me still I will follow
Though none go with me still I will follow
Though none go with me still I will follow
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me
The world behind me, the cross before me
The world behind me, the cross before me
No turning back, no turning back

Then He said to them, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

© Stephanie B. Blake

September 2016

 

 

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