Several years ago a popular saying went, “What would Jesus do?” The question challenged Christians to examine their actions and to consider if they were reflective of Christ’s character. The question challenges our sense of functionality as Christians, in essence asking, “Are we doing the things we are supposed to be doing?” While this is a great, probing question worthy of consideration, let’s take the challenge farther by asking, “What would Jesus be?”
The answer lies in Jesus’s statement in John 6:38:
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
The purpose of His life was to do the will of the Father. Simply, Jesus would be a follower. The life of Christ was an abiding reminder that Jesus lived in submission to the Father, a relationship in which he continually sought to do that which would glorify God. Even in the face of great adversity – including the death of the cross – Jesus still chose to submit to the Father and follow Him (Luke 22:42, Phl 2:8, John 12:49-50; 14:10-11, Matt 26:39). People who seek to know and to submit to God’s will are called followers. Understanding what Jesus would be as a follower helps us understanding that his purpose was the catalyst for all of his actions and activities.
To make it more clear, consider that Jesus shared this calling as a follower with his own followers:
- Jesus commanded disciples, “Follow me” – Matt. 4:19 (and 18 more verses in the Gospels)
- Jesus explained that his sheep follow him – John 10:27
- Jesus declared that disciples deny themselves and follow him – Luke 9:24
Clear enough? The problem is that many reject the label of follower. Why? The rejection is reflective of our natural desire to reign in Christ’s place. We want to be the ruler of our own kingdom, to make self-serving rules, and to call our own followers. Seems absurd, doesn’t it? However, this is what happens when people prize themselves over the Lord and over others. For example, when people argue with one another each prideful contender will stake out the territory they defend (the violation of boundaries that have been crosssed), make or interpret the rules they are willing to follow or to ignore, and try to win as many people to their side as possible. If you’ve been in or observed a dispute lately, you’ll see this simple pattern.
The truth is that even in the most difficult of situations, we are called to demonstrate our willingness and longing to follow the Father and to do His will. What’s the simpliest way to keep that in mind? Let’s get back to the Bible. I believe that the Bible is an inspired book written by followers, about followers, for followers with the purpose of informing followers how to follow God’s will. Because of this, we should recognize that our calling is to become followers – first and foremost.
Those who passionately pursue their calling as a follower experience a vastly different type of life. Life takes on a new depth. Superficiality becomes a mediocrity to be scorned as the depth of God’s grace is explored and enjoyed. Christianity moves beyond the accumulation of information and becomes the experience of transformation. Even the mundane undergoes a makeover because all things have potential to reflect God’s glory. Sound exciting? It should. But only passionate followers move beyond the rudimentary aspects of discipleship; only they can make progress into the depths with God. Examine some new aspects of life as a faithful follower:
- The celebration of God’s holiness in worship is vibrant and jubilant
- Personal holiness becomes a top priority
- The Bible is a treasure read discerningly to discover the presence, power, and promises of God
- God’s presence is experienced, respected, and enjoyed by faith
- Prayer is practiced habitually, not conditionally, in utter dependence upon the Father
- Silence and solitude in prayer before God arouse a longing for the still small voice that cannot be heard over the thunderous requests of our personal laundry list.
- The gospel is shared boldly, not despairingly
- Integrity is upheld, even if it requires personal loss
- Love is based on what you can give, not on what you can get
- Words of love are sincerely expressed, not caustically withheld
- Gifts are given with no expectation of a return
- Acts of kindness are performed from a sense of edification, not obligation
- Moderation and generosity evidence love and stewardship
- Relationships are respected in humility and with appreciation, upholding the dignity of each person and enjoying the gift of life together
- Apologies are offered genuinely, not to mask a festering bitterness and false peace
- Time is shared with others joyfully, not reluctantly
Do you experience this kind of depth with God in your life?
There are times when we all struggle to hear God’s voice. During a game of hide-and-seek with my very young children, I changed the rules of the game to make sure they had a chance of finding me (I’m quite good at hiding, if I do say so myself). As the girls roamed the house, I would call out to them – almost as if the games hide-and-seek and Marco Polo merged together. As long as they listened and responded to the sound of my voice, the girls were sure to find me. The Lord tells us the same thing throughout Scripture, but quite clearly in Psalm 119:2:
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
Challenges come in our lives that derail how we relate to God and others. There are times when we all strain to hear the voice of God. No matter how faint, keep tuning your heart to hear God’s voice. Blessedness, as the verse states, comes to those who seek him.
Following Jesus enables life to be delightful for yourself, edifying for others, and – above all – glorifying for God. Seek God, hear his voice, and return to your “first love” and rekindle your commitment to your calling to follow God with your whole heart. If you seek after him, you’ll find him.