As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me”. So he arose and followed Him.
“Follow Me” those are the exact words Jesus spoke to each of His disciples, who at the time, were just men living what seemed like pretty normal and mundane lives. Levi was a tax collector, Simon Peter and Andrew were fisherman (Matthew 4:18-19), Philip was just chilling somewhere on the way to Galilee (John 1:43). Jesus saw each of them and called out “Follow Me” and each dropped what they were doing, what they’d probably been doing their whole lives, some left family members behind and immediately followed Him.
Today, Christ calls out to us to follow Him too. 2000+ years later and the call has not changed. Each and every day, He wants us to die to self, take up our cross and follow Him. But how many of us can REALLY say that we immediately drop what we’re doing and respond to His request? We’re Christians, we claim. What does it mean to be a Christian? A Christian is simply a follower of Jesus Christ. It’s not about how often you go to church, how well you sing praise and worship songs, how loud you can speak in tongues. It’s about following Christ daily.
Christ came, and He lived an incredibly radical and bold life during His three years of ministry. We know this because we have 4 different accounts through the book of the Gospels. And these accounts were not written just for fun. They were painstakingly documented for us so we could follow in His footsteps. One way Christ asks us to follow Him is to live like He did. We see numerous stories of how He healed the sick, cast out demons and dined with some of the least popular groups of people. How many of us can actually raise our hands to say that we’ve done any of those? I recall a conversation I had with someone who believed that he wasn’t ‘called’ to heal and lay hands on the sick. His reasoning was that those gifts were reserved for evangelists and the likes. But Jesus in Mark 16:15-18 is saying the exact opposite. This is a calling that we are ALL called to! And admittedly, we read the book of Acts and it’s difficult for us to relate because we don’t ever see people living like the apostles did back then. I believe that could be us, all of us, if we actually obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit more and cared less about looking silly in front of strangers. We need to be the change we want to see!!
It’s not just healing and praying for strangers though. Yes, Christ did a LOT of that, but He also openly spoke to the Samaritan woman (which was either forbidden or a taboo back then). We walk past people every day who are often ignored or looked down upon in society and we have opportunities to show the love of Christ. But how often do we take up these opportunities? Jesus has already given us the command! We don’t have to wait until we ‘feel’ ‘led’ by the Holy Spirit to talk to a homeless person near our work place or sit with that guy everyone thinks is weird during lectures.
Christ prayed a LOT. He prayed for Himself, for His disciples and for all who would ever come to know Him. When you say “I’ll pray for you” to a friend or colleague, do you actually follow through and pray for them? Do you pray for your country, for our leaders, those in positions of responsibility? For your church family, for those around you who don’t know Christ? The list is endless, which is great because Paul instructs us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Above all, Christ loved. He loved when it was hard, painful and uncomfortable, He loved knowing those He loved would betray and deny Him. Every single thing He ever did was out of love. All these things I’ve mentioned above are meaningless without love.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27
How will you recognise His voice if you don’t spend time with Him? All of this first comes down to knowing Jesus. Having an intimate and personal relationship with Christ (I feel like this phrased has been RINSED within the church but it’s true!!) and actually seeking to KNOW Him. Paul said in Philippians 3:10 “I want to KNOW Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead”. Is this truly our own hearts desire? How much do we prioritise spending time in the word?
The purpose of reading your Bible is not to be the person who can recite the most verses. The Bible should change you from the inside and reflect outwardly. In Ezekiel Chapter 3, God instructs Ezekiel to eat His words and allow it to fill his belly, so he could then go forth and speak those words to the house of Israel. We also need to feed ourselves God’s word in order to reflect and manifest it to others.
I watched a sermon by Dan Mohler a while back and he said something, that has stuck with me ever since. “When you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice. So why is it that when Christians are squeezed, everything BUT Christ comes out?”
This post is really about challenging you, as God has been challenging me. I am constantly being challenged to lay aside self, pick up my cross and follow Christ. I am constantly being challenged to live a life that is pleasing to Him in ALL areas, even when nobody is looking. I pray that you are equally challenged to assess your own life and how closely it resembles that of Christ. As Jesus said, the harvest is plenty but labourers are few. I know for a fact that I NEED to be doing more. My sincere prayer for us is that going forward, we live our lives with a greater awareness of God’s presence and how He wants to use us to reach and touch His people. That when He calls out to follow Him, we immediately respond to the call. Amen.