Being a Christian, a disciple, is simply following Christ.
If you have ever taken a road trip involving multiple vehicles, you know what it means to follow. On the long straight-aways of open highway, in broad daylight, you can feel a little freer to slow down, to go at your own pace. But, it only takes a few curves, the setting of the sun, or hitting rush hour traffic for everybody to quickly close the gap on the leader. There is typically panic in the car until we are once again riding the bumper of the lead vehicle.
Following requires proximity.
The early followers of Jesus were hated and persecuted, not because they were nice, but primarily because they claimed to personally know, to be in proximity with, the deity above all deities
Listen to Paul as he stood in the ancient city of Athens:
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you….
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:22-27
Following, or being a disciple, means proximity. Jesus didn’t come to give you a new moral code. He came to close the gap. He came for people to “find him.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
This is a daily invitation to be close. Some call it devotion times, quiet time, others have called it solitude. Jesus simply says “come”.
Being a disciple doesn’t require a new discipline. But a life changed by Jesus, hosts a growing craving for intimacy with the Father.
I have heard and even used the excuses for not taking time to be close. “I’m busy.” “I don’t like reading.” “I read that before.” “I don’t understand…” I am dumbfounded how we miss the whole point of life.
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3
How might it go over with my wife if I told her, “I told you once I loved you, I don’t think we really need to hang out?” Not only would I never say it, I couldn’t possibly live that way! The truth is, not only do I love her – that love we share births a craving to spend as many possible moments with her as possible.
The same is true of a follower.
Back to the marriage analogy: It’s not always been easy to talk. We even had some seasons early on where we would avoid talking very much – because we just didn’t understand each other. Intimacy takes time. Little steps, constant curiosity, the help of a wise friend, and not giving, up all build intimacy.
A follower applies these same principles in their journey toward proximity. Let me encourage you to do the same. Take little steps like setting up a daily 15 minute appointment, creating a bible reading goal, starting a prayer journal. Stir the curiosity by not being afraid of questions – but writing them down and taking them to small group or to a trusted friend.
And mostly: don’t give up. It will forever change you!
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Take some time to ask yourself these questions…
- When is my daily time with God?
- What is my reading plan?
- Where is the best place to pray?
- When will I start?
- Who will I share this new commitment with?