Social media is such a mixed bag. One thing it has done is bring back the word “follow.” However, it feels to me like it has made the word distant and passive.
“Follow me,” was Jesus’ call to the first disciples. Action was the response. Proximity of relationship was required. A saying of some Jewish rabbis was, “Cover yourself in the dust of your rabbi’s feet.” The idiom means being right on the heels of the rabbi. Following closely, observing, imitating, learning to be like the rabbi. In the rabbinical system of Jesus’ day, the call to follow a rabbi meant you would leave the life of the family trade behind and enter a new life with one goal and only one – be like your rabbi.
Jesus’ call to us is similar. Our society is different. We don’t have family trades and Jesus doesn’t call all of us to leave our current jobs behind. Although that might be the call for some of us. However, the call to be a disciple is a call to leave our previous life behind and enter one of close relationship with him, with one goal – being conformed to the image of Jesus. This goal is not one we manufacture. We are transformed by the Holy Spirit’s work in us.
Does that sound passive? Just sit and let the Holy Spirit go to work? But that’s not following like a disciple. That’s closer to the kind of following we do on social media. If we follow Jesus like the first disciples, it will be active. They made time for Jesus, walked with him, went places together, talked with him, watched him, ate with him, were astounded by him, and devoted years of their lives to him. Yes, there were also times they failed him, forgot about him, doubted him, and even betrayed him. They weren’t perfect. Neither are we. Yet without active long-term relational connection with Jesus, they would never have grown more like him. The same is true for us. Disciples don’t SnapChat with Jesus. The more time and space we make for Jesus, the more we are transformed by the Spirit. Paul says it this way,
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God…Let them be a living and holy sacrifice…Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Romans 12:1-2
What does this mean for you and me? Whoever you are, whatever you do; the highest calling for all of us is to be followers of Jesus.
Do we desire to be close to Jesus? What are we doing to get closer?
What practices shape your day around him? How do they help you listen and see him better?
When you hear and see him better, how do you imitate (obey) what you observe?
Disciples need each other as well. Who is walking along side you in this journey of following Jesus?
ServeCanada Director & Interim Prayer Catalyst