It’s A Spiritual Issue…
Worship and Admire…..No, Follow!
I admire Jesus and all that he stands for. I mean, being the Son of God and all! Such expectations! How did he do it?
Oh yes, that fully human/fully divine thing. But really, he did it all. Born in a cave, fled to Egypt while an infant and lived there as a refugee, worked with his hands, went to school, accepted God’s call into ministry, got baptized, and met with the devil himself. Whew!
Yes, I do admire Jesus. Those last three years of ministry must have been tough.
I admire how he took anger and hate and responded with love.
I admire how he ignored rumors and gossip.
I admire how he withstood the disbelief of his family and friends, their ridicule, doubt and betrayal…the ultimate betrayal…as they handed him over to his enemies to be killed and ran off to save themselves.
Yes, pure admiration is what I have for Jesus. Always loving, always telling the truth in love, always sacrificing, always doing the will of God. Jesus gave up family, home, friends, and ultimately his life. For what? Oh, for me. And you.
Yes, I admire Jesus. But I don’t strive to be like him. That would be asking too much. Jesus said, “Worship me.” Right?
Uh…no. Jesus said, “Follow me.”
There’s a difference.
And it’s a Spiritual issue….
If I check those red letters in the Bible I find that Jesus never said, “Worship me” or “Admire me”. However, there are many times in those red letters where I find Jesus said, “Follow me.”
It is far easier to admire Jesus than to follow him. An admirer simply stands back, unattached, at a safe distance and observes.
When there is no challenge, hardship, turmoil or danger in our lives it is easy to confuse follow and admire. When things get tougher, the distinction is made clear.
Soren Kierkegaard says that an “admirer is infatuated with the false security of greatness, but if there is any inconvenience or trouble, he pulls back.” The admirers never make any sacrifice. They always play it safe. Admirers will not change their habits or way of living to reflect what it is that they supposedly admire.
Follow is a verb. Those who follow, act. The follower aspires with all his/her strength to be what he/she admires.
Jesus left us with a pattern; a way of being in the world, a way of being the hands, feet and voice of Christ in the world.
Followers live simply so that others might simply live, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, are mindful of the environment, conserve resources, care for those faced with physical and mental illness, addiction, poverty and all the terrible needs of the human heart.
Followers act in love. And love changes everything, because Jesus changes everything.
Admirers become agitated with followers. Have you noticed? If you are following Jesus, you may not be popular. You may be viewed as outspoken, harsh, not nice, anti-church, anti-government, and even anti-family. Followers strive to put Jesus first in their lives.
Kierkegaard again; “The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians…pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the moment we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”
Act accordingly….follow Jesus.
Gerri Harvill is a third career, retired Local Pastor from the United Methodist Church. She, along with Stan Norman, co-lead the follow community. She believes that following Jesus, is indeed, a Spiritual Isssue that drives our day to day living to fulfillment. Her goal is to help provide a space and experience for a nurturing community that gathers to follow Jesus by praying, learning, and caring for others.