“Follow me,” Jesus said. No fewer than 19 times in the four gospels I find Jesus uttering this phrase … “Follow me.”
And just as frequently, we are incluined to respond with something similar to, “Well, I would. I really would like to, but…”
Each of us has somehow persuaded ourselves that our lives are quantifiably busier than the lives of those around us. There simply is not time to follow Jesus. I’ll get back to him on that.
Sometimes we are persuaded to not follow Jesus because his people are so unappealing. The church is filled with hypocrites, you know. And as there is nothing even approaching hypocrisy, or duplicity in my life, I just do not believe I can rub elbows with those people.
At other times, I want to wear that name, the name of Christ, but I want to do it from my own turf and in my own way. Don’t call me to anything freaky, or radical. I want to be a normal Christian. Right?
It may be that my objection to following is rooted in my feelings of inadequacy. I would like to follow and be obedient, but I have these shortcomings. I do not know how to follow well. I do not know enough Bible. I do not do X very well.
Such objections sound much like the string of excuses Moses offered to God when God told Moses to go lead the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt.
Excuse #1: Who am I, God, that I should do this thing? (Exodus 3:11)
God’s Response: I will surely be with you. (Exodus 3:12). Consider Jesus’ statement in Matthew 28:20, ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ If God is for us, then who could ever stand against us?
Excuse #2: Who do I say sent me? What is your name? Gods have to have names, right? (Exodus 3:13)
God’s Response: ‘I AM that I AM’ (Exodus 3:14-15). I don’t need a name. My very existence is sufficient.
Excuse #3: Well, what if they don’t believe me? (Exodus 4:1).
God’s Response: God gave him signs (Exodus 4:2-5). Jesus said, ‘By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’
Excuse #4: I do not speak well. I never have. (Exodus 4:10).
God’s Response: Who made your mouth? Was it not me? I will be with your mouth. (Exodus 4:11-12). I will even send Aaron with you. He is eloquent. (Exodus 4:14-16). Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things, including what to say.
Excuse #5: I just don’t want to go. (Exodus 4:13).
God’s Response: He burned with anger and essentially said, ‘You’re going.’ (Exodus 4:14).
The reality is that it does not matter who, what, or where we are when Jesus calls us. Despite our temptation to say we have not enough time, we are too offended by the Christians, we follow in our own way, we do not know how, or we do not do X, Y, and Z well, Jesus does not say ‘Follow me because you are so gifted, talented, pure, and awesome.’ He says, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ It strikes me as significant that the one who says to us, ‘I will make,’ is the same one who made the universe in the beginning.
There are times Jesus says I am not able to be in the kingdom. When I allow my excuses to become a higher authority in my life than the authority of Jesus, he says I am ‘euthetos’ – I am not ‘well placed’ there. In other places, Jesus says, I am not empowered to be in the kingdom, I don’t possess the ‘tools’ to pull it off, and all of this because I have allowed another authority to supplant the authority of Jesus. Those are strong words, I know. Do not take offense at them, but rather consider from whom they come.
Jesus is the Creator of the universe, God in the flesh. This is the Head of the church, Very God of Very God, King of kings, and Lord of lords, Savior of all who call on him. This is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Rock of our salvation, Kaddik – the Righteous One. This is the one who holds the keys of Death and Hades. This is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider. He is El Rohi, the God who sees me, and El Shaddai, God Almighty. He is El Elyon, God Most High, and El Kannah, the Jealous God, jealously guarding those whom he loves. He is I Am that I Am, the great I Am. He is the conqueror and the overcomer, the Lamb of God. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Door, the Gate, the Resurrection from the dead, the Bright and Morning Star. His is the name that is above every other name, the name at which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ, indeed, is Lord.
Victoriously in Christ!