"And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:27 (NIV)
"Follow me on Twitter!" the celebrity said. He promised insider information and witty words all in 140 characters or less. There's no cost to follow; only benefit. And if it's not to your liking, just unfollow him. It only takes a few key strokes and you can move on to the next entertainer.
Several thousand years ago, someone else said, "Follow me." Only He meant something much different.
There was no promise of pithy sayings; no offer of ease with Jesus. Though the entertainment value was high at times, especially when He performed a miracle, He didn't leave it at that. He asked for more from those who followed Him. Apparently Jesus never read any marketing books, because He sure didn't make it look easy.
When Jesus invited Peter and Andrew to follow Him, they walked away from their jobs. Others left family, wealth and possessions. He gently turned one away because the young man wouldn't give up riches. But those that followed gave up their rights in exchange for a relationship with the Messiah.
Following Jesus was an all or nothing invitation. There isn't one example in Scripture where Jesus made an exception. And yet too many times I find myself following Jesus with only part of me. In fact, at times I'd prefer the Twitter version of following Jesus. Quick and entertaining, and done from behind a screen.
When all the spiritual decorations are removed, the truth is I've tried to follow Jesus with only part of me. I consider His invitation, and I'm happy to follow Him with my mind and hands. As a writer, that makes sense to me.I'll follow You Jesus from behind my computer. That's enough, isn't it?
Not really, I hear. I want your heart too. Are you willing to let go of unforgiveness? And your legs need to follow me so I can send you to do My work in the hospital, your neighbor's home and the prisons if need be.
Okay then, I counter. I'll give You my legs when I've got some extra time in my schedule. Can I think about that unforgiveness request?
And yet I know Jesus wants more. He doesn't want a 140-character relationship with me. He doesn't want my obedience a few times a day when I think about it. He doesn't want my convenient offerings of service. Following Jesus means being His shadow ... walking in His footsteps to the leper colony, being a friend of the outcast, facing scorn from the religious community, and standing firm for what is right in spite of the cost. It means following Him in the very essence of who I am: The deep place where I submit my rights to the One who gave them up for me.
When I look at it in that light, I realize once again why I want to follow Jesus fully. He gave up everything for me. How can I do any less?
My footsteps on this earthly journey following Jesus are not always steady and strong. I've stumbled many times. Yet I know that following anyone else offers only temporary peace and joy. Only Jesus leads me from darkness to light, and from death to life. I don't expect I'll find that on Twitter.
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I've tried to follow You part time. It seems I'm always withholding some part of me, especially when it's inconvenient or uncomfortable. Reveal those areas in my heart that I've kept to myself, and help me become a woman who follows You with complete abandon. In Jesus' Name, Amen.