"Follow Christ." There's a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in Christian circles. But what does it mean to "follow Christ"? It's a really easy phrase to throw around, but what does it mean to live it out?
First of all, the phrase obviously means to replicate Jesus, to do the things Jesus did and said to do. But Biblically, it seems to mean more than that. The phrase means a lot of different things, and it changes how we relate to life in a lot of different ways.
The first time I see the phrase in the Bible is when Jesus says it his disciples in Matthew 4:19, "And he saith unto them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men'." When we examine the lives of the men he gave this message to, it doesn't make the call sound all that inviting.
Let's take a minute and examine the pros and cons here. The disciples could 1.) ignore the call, keep their secure jobs, in their familiar hometowns, or 2.) leave their livelihood sitting on the beach, leave their families, and wander homeless for three years with a penniless rabbi. Then the rabbi would leave earth, and they would mocked, scourged, chased out of cities, and then the majority of them would be tortured to death.
Yet each one of these twelve men abandoned what they were doing to follow Christ. According to normal, logical minds, they did the absolute unthinkable. They left security for insecurity, money for poverty, homes for a wilderness. What on earth were these nuts thinking?
Yet do you see something that's lacking? How about a third choice? How about staying on the beach, send Jesus a little money every year, and attend a Jesus seminar every eight months? Why don't we see that option?
The reason is abundantly, uncomfortably clear. Jesus didn't leave that as a choice. The disciples either followed Him, with their whole lives, or they stayed behind. Jesus wasn't calling for nominal acceptance, or even reluctant popularity. He wanted every fiber of their beings to be engrossed with Him, His work, His life, His love.
Has that call changed for us? When Jesus calls us to follow Him, is He calling us to any less? Is He okay with nominal devotion? I don't think so. Sure we'll fail. Sure we'll sin. But is our life characterized by a whole-hearted, chasing after God?
But one thing needs to be said on this topic. When I say things like those I've said above, it isn't meant to be a call that says, "Alright, everyone up now, and get on the mission field, or you're not saved." It means we are called to pursue God, not by everyone going on the mission field, but by everyone of us honoring God with the little things of our lives, with the boring, commonplace things we do everyday.
We like the feeling that we need to run and go do great things for God. And if you're called to do huge things for God, wonderful. But if you're not, if you're called to give $15 to a beggar under a bridge, wonderful to you too. That is following God. That is what it means to follow Christ. We show Christ not just through our huge projects, and great ideas, and our grandiose mission schemes; we show him through our love for the unlovable people we see every day; we follow Him by our listening to His voice. That is following Christ.