“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 – NASB)
I’ve been doing some reading, praying, and reflecting on what it means to follow Christ.
“ the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1 John 2:6 – NASB)
The Greek word “to follow” in the verse above (Luke 9:23) literally means “to mimic” or “to imitate.” God is not asking us to follow a list of rules, rather, He wants us to follow – or imitate – Christ Himself. He wants us to walk – to live our lives – in the same way He did. “Christian” means “little Christ,” and like children follow in their parents’ footsteps, so God want us to follow in (or more literally – walk in) His footsteps.
To give you a hokey metaphor, let’s say I need to cross a massive field in the dark and it’s very windy and covered with over a foot of heavy snow. If Jesus has already gone ahead of me and broken a path then the quickest, most effective, and efficient way of crossing the field would be to walk in his footsteps, right? I mean it makes sense to me; rather than going through the arduous, unnecessary, and even potentially dangerous task of breaking my own path, if I’m stepping exactly where He stepped I don’t need to worry about whatever may be buried under the snow – impossible to see. So walking in His footsteps is not only the quickest, most efficient way of crossing the field – it’s also the safest.
Life can be that way, can’t it? Like trudging across a snow covered field on a windy night. We can’t see what’s coming, the wind can keep us off balance, and we can’t even tell if our next step will be solid, if we’ll step into a hole, or worse, find it’s not a field at all – but a lake that hasn’t had time to freeze enough to hold our weight (eek!). But God knows what’s ahead of us and the safest, best way for us to cross the field of life (yes, it’s hokey, but it serves to make my point).
I like what John Gill says in his commentary on 1 John 2:6: (as written in the NIV – “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”) “The “as” is not a note of equality, but of likeness; for it cannot be thought that saints should walk in that degree of perfection, in humility, patience, love, and in the exercise of every other grace, and in the discharge of duty, as Christ did; only that they should copy after him, and make his obedience and life the rule of theirs.”
Think about that. God wants us to make Christ’s obedience and life the rule of ours. The rule – not the exception.
Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. When He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane right before He was arrested, He asked God to “take this cup from Me.” He sweat drops of blood at the mere thought of what He knew He would have to endure. And YET…after He asked the Father to spare Him that agony, He also said “yet not My will, but Yours be done.” He absolutely did not want to go through everything He did, but was obedient regardless – doing what His Father asked of Him – to the point of enduring a lengthy, brutal, agonizingly painful death. Knowing this I have to ask myself, am I this obedient to God? Are you? I know I (very!) frequently fall pretty short (as I’m sure you do as well), but this is what He requires of those who claim to follow Him, so although I know perfection is not attainable on this side of Heaven, I love Him so I will never stop trying to get better at this following in obedience thing.
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.‘” (John 8:12 – NASB)
I was always afraid of the dark as a kid, and even though I’m not ‘afraid’ of it (per se) anymore it can still be unsettling when I can’t see what’s around me. I am one who really likes to be aware of my surroundings so this verse really resonates with me. I am so thankful that I don’t walk in darkness anymore because I have Jesus, the light of the world, to light my way.