Jesus said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." And ever since He spoke these words, many of His "followers" have been trying to find a different route -- any other way than actually following Him. But His word has not changed. Following Him is the only way to "get there" from here.
Jesus is the Way: Without the Way we cannot go.
Jesus is the Truth: Without the Truth we cannot know.
Jesus is the Life: Without the Life we cannot live.
Followership, awkward as it sounds, is not a made-up word. It means the capacity to follow. It is the most crucial word in the Christian's vocabulary. For it is in developing the capacity to follow and in the actual following that we become like our leader and become intimately acquainted with Him.
Do you have this capacity within you? Do you possess followership? What does it involve? The following is a partial list:
If we have decided to walk His way we must expect to fare as He fared. We will be treated as He was treated, we will be expected to react as He reacted. In this way we will share His experiences and begin to really know Him.
We will feel as He felt. We will weep as He wept. We will cry to God as He cried. We will be wounded as He was wounded. We will be crucified as He was crucified.
And we will come to know Him better and better.
At first, as these experiences come our way we will want to strike back at those who are the sources of our hurt, humiliation, disappointment, ridicule, persecution. And then we will strike back at God and cry -- "It isn't fair". We may begin to doubt. But if we are true followers we will continue on and endure patiently whatever comes. Then a day will dawn when we hear ourselves say, " Thank you, Father, for these experiences. Thank you for the privilege to know and follow Your Son."
That day we will begin to experience the height and depth of the love of Christ:
The joy in pain,
The happiness in sorrow,
The strength in weakness,
The fullness in want,
The sufficiency in helplessness,
The dying in living and the new life in dying.
"Who is wise, that he may understand these things, prudent that he may know them? For the ways of the Lord are right and the just shall walk in them." (Hosea 14: 9) Do not be deceived -- the way is not easy, the road is narrow, and few find it. For Jesus will ask you to comfort when you are wounded, rebuild what you did not destroy, be merciful when you deserve justice.
He will also ask you to do good to those who harm you, to remain silent when you are insulted or unjustly accused, to turn your face toward him who spits at you, to lay down for others to walk over you, to give to anyone who asks of you, to bind yourself that others may go free, to give away that which you need yourself. These commands of Jesus will be difficult -- impossible -- but for the grace of God. You will find that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
Now you will discover treasure and truth in darkness and the truth will set you free. For truth will enter into your soul and penetrate and saturate it. It will be a living force. Truth will become so vital a part of you that it cannot be taken from you. You will give away everything, even your life, rather than deny it. In fact, regardless now of any earthly consequence you will follow the truth, for the truth is your life. You will press on toward the goal to win the heavenly prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling you upward. You will strip off anything that slows you up or holds you back. You will run with patience the particular race that God has set before you, keeping your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.
When you grow weary, and you will grow weary, you will take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your tottering knees and mark out a straight, smooth path for your feet so that those who come after you, though weak and lame, will not fall and hurt themselves but become strong. Christ walked this way for you -- now it is your turn.
Someday you will hear the king say to you, "Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." So get up and get going, the king is coming soon.