Follow then lead

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“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Who did Jesus give these final instructions to? HIs disciples. These are not instructions for just anybody; these are instructions for those who call themselves Jesus’ disciples, His followers. You must be a follower of Jesus before you could ever expect to lead anyone to Him. So before you begin to live out this final command of Jesus, you must examine the question: “Am I a follower of Jesus?”

Over two thousand years ago, there was a saying that, roughly translated, went: “May you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi.” The idea was that as a follower of a Rabbi, you would be walking so closely behind your teacher and so often, that you would be covered in the dust that his feet would kick up. That’s what it means to follow Jesus closely: to be covered in the dust His feet would kick up. We need to be following Jesus this closely and we do that by following His teachings. We can’t follow His teachings if we don’t know what they are; this means we need to be studying the Word every day. Reading just the verse of the day and moving on is not following Jesus so closely that you get covered in His dust—that’s more like watching Jesus from a distant hilltop. Jesus is more comfortable at a distance, but as C.S. Lewis said, “If you want a religion to make you feel comfortable, I certainly wouldn’t recommend Christianity.”

“For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’” (John 8:12)

We have been called not just to accept Jesus’ payment for our sins but to worship Him as King and follow Him as His servants and disciples. When we follow Jesus we will no longer walk in the darkness of this fallen world—we will have the light that leads to life. But there is a cost to following Jesus.

“But Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.’” (Matthew 8:20)

“‘If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.’” (John 15:18-19)

Even while Jesus was on earth He was warning people of the cost of following Him. Following Jesus and living the way He instructs means gaining the world’s hatred. Following Jesus is dirty work if you intend to follow Him close enough to be covered in His dust. It is only by following Christ first that we are then able to lead others to Him. To become better leaders we must become better followers. If you want to lead people to Christ, work on your personal walk with Jesus on the narrow path. Look at the people around you: do they become more like the world each day or more like Jesus?

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.