Is there anyone out there who has never played follow the leader? It’s the most simple game of all time. The rules? You establish who the leader is, then everyone else agrees to be the followers. The leader chooses where we all go and what we will all do, and the follower’s only responsibility is to go where the leader goes and do what He does precisely. If you play an especially cut-throat version of the game you may even be cut from the game if you fail to follow one of the leaders movements! It’s a remarkably simple game. There’s not a lot of overcomplicating you can do.
However, pivot to the topic of following Jesus, and I think it’s safe to say that Christians the world over have done some impressive overcomplicating of what it means to follow Jesus. Thus, some have excused themselves from being in the game altogether. Perhaps it is because the cost of the following seems too high, but I think that Christians have been overcomplicating the task of following Jesus since Jesus walked the earth. My prayer is that we could reclaim some of the simplicity of what it truly means to follow Jesus, and maybe when we see the type of leader Jesus is, some out there may gain the confidence to get back in the game.
First, we must establish who the leader is. Jesus is the divine Son of God, fully God and fully man. Colossians 1:19-20 says, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” This is who we are following; not a tyrant king, not an abusive dictator, but the humble servant who gave His perfect life as the sacrifice that paid for our sin. He is our merciful king; He is our leader.
Now comes the costly part; we have to decide whether we will be followers. When we read in the New Testament, we see the track record for the kind of things Jesus did. He ate meals with sinners and tax collectors. He cared for the destitute, the cast-out, mourning, and broken. He was not in it for any personal fame. On the path of following Jesus, we may be visiting some uncomfortable places, and there is no guarantee for vast riches or multi-million-dollar homes. When the scribe came and offered to follow Jesus in Matthew 8:20, Jesus’ response to him was “…Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” The risk may seem high, but Jesus is also the same God who gives only good gifts! (Matt. 7:11) His riches are endless, and just the grace to be in His presence is a treasure that this world simply cannot ever hope to offer. I pray that the Holy Spirit would give you eyes to see that the comparative riches of knowing Jesus by the grace of God through His death on the cross is worth the cost of wherever and whatever Jesus may call you to do as you follow Him.
Now, you may be asking yourself whether Jesus is the type to take the cut-throat single-elimination approach to those who follow Him. The short answer is no! But the more wonderful answer is that God is full of grace and mercy to all of His people. He does not desire for anyone to perish in their sin (2 Peter 3:9). God, from the beginning of creation, has been extending compassion and mercy to His people when they sin against Him. He is full of forgiveness, and there is no fault or sin that His grace cannot overcome. When an individual comes to saving faith in Jesus, the Bible says in Romans 8:15 that we are adopted as sons and daughters of God. That means we are not just pawns for his divine strategies, but instead, we are His children.
I don’t know if you have kids, but one of the most foundational things about parenthood is that no matter what mistakes my children make, I will never kick them out of my family! They will always be mine. And for you and me, I think this is an excellent reason to give our very best in following Jesus and not to give up or quit when we fail.
Let’s not overcomplicate what following Jesus means and excuse ourselves from it. Jesus is calling you to follow Him, and he is the best kind of leader. So, will you follow Him?