Far above all the other words that Jesus Christ ever spoke, none are so challenging and complex as these two, “Follow Me.” Yet no other words contain such mysterious, immeasurable power. To follow Jesus Christ is as complicated as it is misunderstood. Many people throughout the world think they follow Jesus Christ, yet Jesus Himself said that many who though they followed Him, even those who cast out demons, prophesied and performed wonders in His name would be cast away. Why?? Because what it means to follow Jesus isn’t defined by our own desires, experiences, expectations, hopes and dreams or good intentions. To enter heaven, Jesus said, you must do the will of the Father. (Matthew 7:21-23) To do the will of the Father, you must know what it is and to know what it is you must seek His will and then submit it to it, regardless of any other factor. (Luke 14:33) That’s a whole lifetime of effort right there!
Jesus not interested in what you can do for Him. Jesus is interested in what you’ll allow Him to do for you.
Remember Jesus said, “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) He said also you would have to “lose” your life – give it up, let it go, release it to Him – your desires, dreams, hopes, thoughts, habits, cravings, expectations, hurts, worries, emotions, family baggage, pressures, obligations, careers, hobbies, your personal agendas, your relationships and everything else by which you define your “life” – to be found in Him – to find who He has created and called you to be. This is not easy and it is a constant battle against the flesh and it’s the reason why so many “follow” Jesus and even preach or pastor, evangelize, go on mission trips, lead worship, teach Bible studies and more and still miss the mark. Jesus said He would see all of this and say, “I never knew you; depart from Me”. In fact, Jesus also said it was the practice of sin to appear to “follow” Him while still seeking anything except for Him. Jesus not interested in what you can do for Him. Jesus is interested in what you’ll allow Him to do for you. That’s the difference between the follower and the “Follow Me’s” – utter submission to the point of the “death” of everything, every person, every experience you’ve ever used to define who you are.
This doesn’t mean you have to live in poverty or that because you’re successful that you’re not following Jesus. To “follow Me” is a daily denial of self. Daily taking up your cross. Daily losing your life. Daily seeking His leading and following it. This is not easy and it will be a journey you’ll walk for the rest of your life. However, if you continue to define your life or the Bible or Jesus Christ using definitions that fit into who you already are, you’re off course! “I never knew you,” Jesus said. Jesus used that word “knew” to imply this: I never was in intimate relationship with you. I never got to the point where you let me completely in. I was never allowed past your walls. I never had any real influence in your life because you never gave me permission. I never really knew you.
Paul wrote, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.” (Philippians 3:7-9) “Follow Me,” Jesus said. What a difficult thing to do! Do you know why Jesus said, “…small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”? (Matthew 7:14) Because when something is narrow, you’ll only be able to walk it without falling if you walk in single file, with no one alongside you. To “follow Me” is to walk knowing that Jesus is all you need.
Thought for today
Here’s what it all boils down to: We get so busy ministering for Jesus that we forget to minister to Him. It’s a mistake! In fact, it is sin, Jesus said. So many people operate in a capacity that they think is godly and well-intentioned and they sacrifice and work and build a ministry to serve to other people thinking they’re doing the right thing when really Jesus wants you to do all that to Him, first. Jesus wants to know you. He wants you to let Him know you. God is a gentleman. He is not going to force Himself on you. You can work and work and work in Jesus’ name and everyone will think you follow Jesus and you’ll think you’re “following” Him and yet, you did not “follow Me.” Why? Because He never really knew you. This is a challenging word for all of us who walk on the journey of faith! Never spend more time ministering to others than you do ministering to the Lord. Worship is how you minister to the Lord. Spend time in His presence. Get on your knees. Be alone with Him. Sing to Him. Speak to Him. Let Him speak to you. Your primary ministry is to the Lord before you ever minister to anyone else.