Follow Me!—that’s the call that Jesus issues to every person. In the last article, I gave you the reasons I decided to follow Jesus. But what does it mean to follow Jesus?
Simply put, following Jesus means following His words—His teaching, His commandments. “If
you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). “If
anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (John 14:23). “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow
Me” (John 10:27). “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in
My love” (John 15:10). “If anyone keeps My word, he shall never see death” (John 8:51). Lest we think this unimportant, consider the consequences if we don’t. “Whoever transgresses
and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God” (2 John 1:9). “He
who rejects Me and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in
the last day” (John 12:48).
Keep this in mind, though, about the teaching of Christ—it is more than just the “words
in red”; it includes that given through His apostles and prophets. Before
Jesus ascended back to heaven, He told His apostles that He still had many things to say to them (John 16:12), and to accomplish
that, He would send the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth (“He will guide you into all truth...He will take of
what is Mine and declare it to you”—John 16:13-14). The Holy Spirit
did come and reveal all truth, and this body of truth was written down and preserved for us in the New Testament (Ephesians
3:1-5; Jude 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3). But it is still the teaching of Jesus, because what they wrote came from or through Him—something
they emphasized in their writings (see 1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 4:2).
Following Jesus also means following His example (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21)—obviously a very
important element of His teaching. One who claims to be a follower of Christ should make every effort to live as He did. “He
who says He abides in Him ought Himself to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). The aim of His teaching, after all,
is to change us into His image (Romans 8:28-29).
Following Jesus also involves following the example of those who followed Him, and there are many such
in the New Testament. Consider what Paul wrote, first in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”;
and then in Philippians
3:17, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” The
teaching of Christ is much easier to relate to when we see it embodied—in Christ, and in His followers.
In looking for examples or patterns to follow, let’s not forget about the local churches we read
about in the New Testament. These churches were taught the commandments of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37; 4:17), and so what
they did in obedience to the Lord is what we need to do today. Churches who are interested in following Jesus will endeavor
to follow this pattern—in their worship, their work, and their organization. If you are part of a church that is not
following this pattern, you are not following Jesus!
In the next article we talk about the commitment involved in following Jesus. Please e-mail us if you have any questions: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org