Following Jesus…More Than Just Reading a Tweet
October 12, 2015
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In today’s technologically driven world, we feel connected to people we hardly know through social media. Old friends from high school, acquaintances, or even politicians, athletes, and celebrities. All you have to do is “like” or “follow” their page on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and you’re instantly updated with everything they post.
The digital age is amazing! However, it can also lead to a false sense of relationship. You can begin to feel as though you have a friendship with your favorite television star, simply because you follow his or her 140-character Tweets. As believers in Jesus Christ, it is increasingly important that we never confuse superficial “observing” with true following and discipleship.
To be a true follower of Christ is more than just reading a Tweet or a Scripture verse. It goes way beyond the realm of simply being baptized and professing one’s faith in Him. It is more than just going to church every week, giving to the poor, or volunteering. It is much deeper.
So then, what does it take to be a true follower of Jesus? In Luke 9:23, Jesus told us what we need to do to follow Him: “If anyone desires to come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
The first requirement in following Jesus is denying oneself. To deny oneself means saying no to our own needs, desires, wishes, and sinful habits. It means disengaging ourselves from earthly ties or distractions, thinking, and anything that keeps us from growing as Christians. This could be unhealthy relationships, habits, or possessions. Jesus said, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33).
As you deny yourself, you allow God to change you into the person He desires you to be. You set your heart on what is eternal. “And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). When we follow Jesus, we give up our will and, instead, seek His will in everything we do.
The second requirement in following Jesus is taking up your cross daily. Luke 14:27 says, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” The cross is the symbol of suffering. As followers of Jesus, we are not immune from life’s pain and suffering. For some, it may be an illness, poverty, or the loss of a loved; for others, it may be a delayed promotion, a painful betrayal, or unjust treatment. As followers of Jesus, we need to remember that these trials and suffering are meant to strengthen our faith and rely on God’s grace. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
Still, the heaviest cross that followers of Jesus may have to bear is the persecution by the world for being His follower. Jesus warned in John 15:18,
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first.”
Paul echoes the sentiment in 2 Timothy 3:12, “In fact, everyone who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
When Jesus said “Follow Me,” He was telling us to follow Him to the cross, to His ultimate mission. When believers follow Jesus, we release control of our lives to God. Like Peter, we drop everything when He calls. We drop all our idols and worldly desires and follow Him to the cross knowing that the road is painful and difficult. Like Jesus, we spread the Gospel of love and redemption. We emulate Him by investing our time, talent, and resources doing good for others as He did. We follow Him by walking in obedience, loving unconditionally, and setting our minds on things eternal.
Following Jesus will cost one everything, but in the end, there is everything to gain. Jesus gave us a powerful assurance that everyone who has left it all behind for Him will “receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).
Edited by Carmencita F. Davino, Ph.D