Have you ever considered the weight of Jesus invitation to “ Follow me ”? These days it is a much different concept than what was meant 2,000 years ago. Of course this invitation had nothing to do with “following” Jesus’ Facebook status, Twitter or Instagram updates. It also was much more than “following” someone the way you would walk behind them through the woods, tail them in your vehicle or pedal furiously to keep up with them on your bicycle. It was so much more than that. Although we’ve touched on this in a previous post, it seems timely again.
In the case of physically following someone on foot or in a vehicle, it really costs the follower nothing other than energy, time and possibly a fuel bill. Of course being found out could be embarrassing since it is not all that socially acceptable to physically track someone (unless of course you were invited to do so). Even still, the cost is minimal.
Following someone through various Internet tools requires even less investment. In fact, it costs the follower nothing. Furthermore, the motivation is usually dramatically different in that the follower simply seeks to gain information about the one being followed with no investment in relationship, energy, money and very little mental effort or time. Of course, should the one being followed want to count his or her followers and flaunt the numbers as some kind of achievement that is a different thing. Vanity and the desire for popularity are powerful things.
Consequently, it shouldn’t surprise us that Jesus’ invitation to “follow” was neither of these two options. He didn’t post Facebook updates from Galilee so his “followers” in Jerusalem could keep up with his life. Witty tweets did not emanate from his Twitter account providing updates of his thoughts for the day after spending time alone with his Father in heaven. An Instagram pic posing with the Gadarene demoniac in his right mind or the disciples holding up a breaking net full of fish was not his style. Possibly humorous thoughts but perhaps we should wonder how Jesus would have survived in the 21st century. Would he use social media? If so, would he accept anyone’s “friend request”? How would he handle nuisance messages, trolls or internet stalkers? The mind wanders…
What did it take to really “connect” with Jesus? I suggest that “ Follow me ” had profound implications to the hearer of those powerful words. Time and time again when they were uttered from the Master’s lips they were full of a concept that is lacking in the examples cited here and sadly in much of modern society. They can be summarized in one word – investment. Consider these examples:
Fishermen left their nets, a tax collector his business, a zealot his rabble-rousing to follow him for at least three years. They left (or at least significantly set aside) their entire profession, livelihood and lifestyle.
A rich, young ruler was asked to sell all and give to the poor and follow him. In essence, a major life change. He sadly chose not to.
Anyone who wanted to follow him had to deny themselves and take up their cross. This undoubtedly meant suffering and at minimum not pursuing their own personal agenda. These days we seem to have a problem in being inconvenienced for a few hours or days to achieve a goal or change a bad habit. Jesus didn’t work that way then and I dare suggest that he doesn’t work that way now. The bar is high. The effort significant. The cost substantial. A lifestyle disrupted.
However, promises await…
“I will make you fishers of men…”
“If you want to inherit eternal life…”
Magnificent promises to those who were prepared to make the investment or pay the price. Yes, salvation is a free gift that only needs to be received. However, Jesus desires to make us into something completely different than what we presently are and see us inherit something beyond our wildness dreams. He is prepared to put in the work (in fact he already has and is committed to finish what he started) but we must co-labour with him by making an investment ourselves.
The twelve were “made” by physically following Jesus all over Palestine on foot. Sleeping outdoors. Sitting in uncomfortable places. Going short on food. In essence, hand over hand mentoring and training. A simple modern example might be a personal trainer for fitness training. Both the trainer and trainee are fully invested in time, money and physical effort. Hard work. Should it be any different with spiritual, ethical or moral things?
Ask yourself what price you are willing to pay for real change in the important things in life. Following your favorite spiritual guru, celebrity or leader on social media will not change you. You will need to sow something you value if you want to reap something of greater value. It may cost you money, time, reputation, friends, family or a precious possession. The universe simply works that way.
Imagine Jesus saying those powerful words to you “ Follow me. ”
What investment are you and I prepared to make in order to invest in following him?