In the past few days I’ve come to realize that I’m not a follower of Jesus. There are thousands upon thousands of us out there who, in one form or another claim “followership” of Jesus. People who make the claim whether verbally or otherwise that Jesus is important to them. I’ve realized that I simply can’t be one of the “masses” anymore.
When I was 18 I had tough year. I made some pretty poor choices (I still make some) and if wasn’t for the help and prayer of some neighbours, I might have seen my life go a different direction. Thankfully that didn’t happen. I was introduced to someone who changed my life forever. Someone who gave me purpose and direction. This person didn’t simply say “follow.” He didn’t simply say “click here to like me.” Rather, he encouraged me to die. He encouraged me to let go. He encouraged me to trust.
These days it’s easy to follow someone or something. It really doesn’t take any effort or even a whole lot of commitment. From the comfort of a sofa, you can simply click “follow.” That’s it. It’s that simple. Here’s what I’ve noticed. Over the past 10+ years Christians have started referring to themselves as “Followers of Jesus.” Or, “Christ follower.” Why? Why did we make the shift? Why did we stop calling ourselves disciples? My opinion? Because it’s more palatable. Easier to digest. Not so “extreme.” Do we as Christians have a bad rap? You bet. So we started to use clever and cool names to refer to our faith. Kind of like when we talk about our mistakes rather than our sins. It just sounds better. There’s a problem though. Being a follower is simply that. Being a follower. It doesn’t require much from us, if anything at all. We simply follow. Being a disciple? Well, that’s something different. A disciple is someone that has a teacher. A master that they learn from. Someone that they experience life with. A disciple then goes on and makes disciples of their own. And those disciples make disciples.
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:12-15 ESV)
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
You get the picture. It’s more than just being a follower.
Jesus didn’t come to the earth to make followers. He came to teach and release disciples. To do what? Change the world. To point the whole world to Jesus. For this reason I can’t be a follower of Jesus anymore. I am a Disciple!