As I wrote last time, Christians are followers of Jesus Christ. But what does that really mean? The word “follow” has lost much of its meaning today. To follow a religious teacher originally meant to be devoted to that person’s teachings.
Following in Christ’s usage meant to give up one’s earthly pursuits and depend upon him. Jesus met Andrew and Simon, also called Peter, and gave them a command. The Bible says in Matthew 4:19 (KJV), “And he saith unto them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.'”
In those days, the family business was handed down from one generation to the next. To just leave it and follow somebody would normally be unthinkable.
But not everybody who wanted to follow Jesus accepted his all-or-nothing level of commitment. One man wanted to follow but he had a dead relative to mourn for. Christ said in Matthew 8:22 (KJV) “But Jesus said unto him, ‘Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.'”
Likewise, Matthew gave up a lucrative government job to follow Christ. He wrote in Matthew 9:9 (KJV) “And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, ‘Follow me.’ And he arose, and followed him.”
Christ himself said in Matthew 16:24 (KJV) “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.'” Taking up one’s cross meant being willing to die for the Lord.
We have sports coaches today who demand the absolute best out of their players. Those who aren’t wholly committed to the team would soon be off it. So it is with Christ. Even though we haven’t left all to follow him, everything we have and all that we do must be governed by him.
In my next book called You Think You’re Going to Heaven?, I intend to write in detail regarding this attitude which all followers of Jesus must have.