Who do you follow? The truth is that on any given day, we follow a lot of people. We follow friends on Facebook. We follow celebrities on Twitter. We follow fast cars in the fast lane going to work, and we stay up close if they’re not going fast enough. If we’re in a race, we follow the guy ahead of us until we’re ready to make our move.
In our families, we follow our parents’ rules and examples. At work, we follow proven winners willing to mentor and lead us to the next level. And for those of us who are adventure types, we follow trailblazers who dare to go where others have never gone before.
We follow people we like or admire. We follow people who lead. We follow people who push limits. We follow people who envision what we cannot. We follow people who have what we want.
We follow people who are where we want to be.
Why do we follow others? To stay connected. To feel important. To learn something new. To not be left out or left behind. To achieve more than we could ever achieve on our own.
So when it comes to religion, who do you follow?
It’s an important question because when we follow someone, we do what they do. We go where they go. And we’re going to end up like them. The bottom line is that our life on earth is going to end in death. That’s a given. But what happens after that? That’s where people start seeking religion. Some religions have stringent requirements about who can join them. Some religions have rules and regulations about what to do, and when, in order to get better standing in the next life. And all religions have some leader, past or present, that everyone in that group is aspiring to be like.
But there’s only one leader who has risen from the dead and is still alive today. Jesus.
I want to be like Jesus. I want what Jesus has. So I follow Him. I don’t want to join any group that worships dead people or follows rules written by dead people. Those leaders are dead. Why would I want to follow them?
Here’s the great thing about Jesus: He tells it like it is.
First, Jesus says that our eternal life is not about religion. Jesus tells us up front that, on our own, we can never be holy enough to get into heaven. Memorizing prayers or verses won’t give us a secret code to unlock the pearly gates. We can’t buy our way to eternal life by giving to a church. We can’t get into heaven based on what family we’re born into. There isn’t a “good deed meter” that will signal when we’ve done enough to secure our eternity among the clouds. Going to heaven, i.e. securing our eternal future, isn’t based on how good or how bad we’ve been. It’s based on Jesus. He is God. He is holy. And when we’re under His covering, we become holy. That’s how we get into heaven.
Second, Jesus tells us how to come under His covering. By entering into a relationship with Him. Jesus knows us. He loves us. He wants to share intimately with us. But a relationship takes two. It takes us. Jesus wants us to know Him. As we get to know Him, we begin to love Him. As our love grows, we trust Him and turn to Him first. We open up to Him and share intimately with Him. He lives in us. We live in Him. He leads. We follow. And when we take our last breath here on earth, He will take us to His home. Heaven.
So who are you following? Where are they now? And where can they take you?
“‘Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!’” Mark 16:6 (NLT)
May I pray?
Jesus, we follow a lot of people. But it’s hard to follow You. We don’t always hear You because we’re listening to other people. We don’t always see You because we’re trying to keep up with the people we want to be like. Stop us in our tracks today. Help us to tune out the distractions and the noise of our daily life so we can truly assess where we are. Help us to take a long, hard look at who we’re following and where that path is leading. Lord, please help us to start taking steps toward You. You alone are God. You alone can bring us to heaven. You alone can transform our life as we grow in relationship with You. Amen.
Q4U: Who are you following, and where do you hope they’ll take you?
I don’t have problems following different religions other than Christianity, but I do have to watch that I am only following Christ and not Christian leaders. Specifically, I need to make sure that anything I listen to is in line with Scripture. I feel blessed that I am part of a church that preaches the Bible, and I am comfortable that their decisions reflect what they feel is God’s leading. Unfortunately, there are churches out there that lead people to think they are preaching the truth, but they only preach part of the truth. I have experienced that in several churches. It isn’t always easy to know that I am really following God, but I have slowly learned that I cannot follow people, no matter how well intentioned they may be, to bring me to a place that only God can take me. I can listen to their advice, but I have to ultimately follow God’s lead based on what He says to me.
What great insight! You’re right – we can learn from others, but ultimately we have to be able to discern what is God’s truth from what is someone else’s teaching that may not line up with truth. Makes me think of Hebrews 12:1-2, let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our ears, mind and spirit open to Him.