Sitting at the beach last night, watching the sun drift into the Gulf of Mexico and enjoying some live, acoustic worship music at The Gathering, I was met with an interesting thought by my close friend. We were there to fellowship, have some laughs (and watermelon), and to worship. We were there to be witness the baptism. My friend spoke to the group for a few minutes before the baptism service and shared an idea that has been bouncing around in my head ever since.
It’s probably been said many times before and I just didn’t hear it. I’ve probably read it in a book, but didn’t see it. For whatever reason, however, my ears and eyes were opened last night. It’s not ground breaking, earth shattering information, just a simple thought to ponder.
As Christians, we believe a lot of things. We believe the Bible. We believe that every word of it was written by men, and inspired by God and because of that it is perfect. Every. Single. Word. We believe in that same God. We believe he created the universe, and set time and space in motion. We believe he created the earth. We believe he put man on it and saw that man needed company so he made woman. We believe that man and woman broke the one command God gave them and because of that they were cast out of the garden and man’s relationship with God was severed. We believe that God revealed to man that he would one day send a savior; someone to re-establish the connection between God and man. We believe that the savior God spoke of is God himself. We believe that Jesus is that savior; that he lived a sinless life, died to pay the price for our sins, was raised from the dead, and is preparing heaven for us. And because we believe that Jesus is God, then the teachings, life, and actions of Jesus are to be studied, learned, shared, and imitated. We believe we are to live our lives like Jesus.
Christians are believers.
But are we followers?
There is a big difference between believing in someone and following someone.
My friend gave a really good example of the difference between believing and following, but I was already wrapped up in this thought and examining my own life when he said it. I completely missed what it was. And I am trying to come up with a practical example to help you understand the point, but am having a hard time doing so.
When in doubt, refer to Harry Potter.
So, Harry Potter is standing on the train platform watching the Weasley’s run through a brick wall to get to the wizarding side of the platform so they can catch their train. He saw the Weasley’s do it, and believed that it worked, for them. But until he ran towards that concrete pillar with his luggage cart and ended up on the other side, all he was doing was believing that it was possible. He had to follow Ron through to find out that what he believed was the truth.
There is probably a really good Lord of the Rings example too, but I can’t think of it right now.
Jesus showed us the way. He showed us how to follow God. He showed us how to treat others. He showed us everything we needed to know. Furthermore, he even told us before he left how to be his follower.
Luke 10: 25-28 (NLT)
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
There it is. That’s it. I mean, if people actually lived their lives like this, how different would the world be? If we loved others as much as we loved ourselves, how would that look? If you removed greed and all selfish desires from the world, what would that leave us? Would there be war? Would people be starving? Would there be divorce? Would there be a need for reality television?
Then Jesus says, “Do that and you will live.”
By process of elimination, wouldn’t that also mean, don’t do that and you will die?
I know I am certainly guilty of loving myself more than my neighbor. I do that all the time. And, yeah, I love God, but do I really love God; with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, and all my mind? Yikes. I don’t think I do.
But I am working on it.
I am a believer striving to be a follower in a world that tries to convince me that I need to look out for number 1, take care of myself, do me, and to just be myself.
Jesus created the path, walked it, and all we have to do is follow him into eternity. It’s a narrow path, and it is hard to follow, but it is a path that can be walked. The cool thing is that even when you stray from the path, God is always there to show you the way back. So you can have your road not taken, and I will take the road taken by one. That’ll make a difference.
Are you a believer or a follower?