BBQ is good. Gnats are a bother. Humans are followers.
These are simple truths that seem to be timeless. Now, as you can imagine, the rest of this article will center around the last of the aforementioned statements, humans are followers. Whether we realize it or not, we are not leaders, we are followers – we’ve all been formed by certain people, places, and events. Those things work together and conform us into a certain type of person.
No wonder that Jesus’ first words to many of his followers was, “follow me”. The Son of God entered a world of wayward followers to show them The Way. It’s also no wonder that the culture around us, especially Hollywood and social media, seek to have followers. They do this through people called cultural influencers.
Cultural influencers intentionally work to shape society in a certain way by gaining followers – influencing them in the direction of what those who are paying the cultural influencers so choose. Basically the followers of cultural influencers conform their desires, thus their beliefs, thus their lives to that of who they follow. We are not independent people, we are influenced people.
The danger here is that the culture being paid for is one of demonic gain and worldly success. As followers of cultural influencers build their lives around the influencer, so the culture goes. Because our battle is not against flesh and blood, we must recognize and reconcile the fact that there is a darkness seeking to lure us and conform us in a way that is of the Kingdom of Darkness.
It’s not so much that Satan wants us to follow him, per say, it’s that his desire is that we do not follow Jesus.
Think about this, when Jesus invited those rascal disciples to follow him, they were in essence leaving the life that they once followed. The cultural influences the disciples had learned would come head to head with the One they were following as Jesus invited his followers to follow The Way.
Why, though, do we need to follow Jesus? Isn’t he just another cultural influencer? Is he a narcissistic, desperate leader, pining for people to follow him?
Again, human beings are followers, we are going to conform our lives to something or someone. The work of our lives on earth, I believe, isn’t life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but conformity to Christ, who has come to show us our created purpose. While the 3 year ministry of Jesus showed us who He was, HE showed us the life we were created to live.
In following Jesus we learn to live the life we were created to live.
Frederick Buechner once quipped, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
In following Jesus we find this calling. Because every single one of us has been called to follow Him. And in following Jesus, the Spirit shows us our gifts and the church confirms those gifts. The beauty is, there’s a wideness in gifts, but a narrowness in THE Way, because there is only one leader. In following Jesus, we leave behind the prince of the world, we reject the evil powers of darkness, and we learn our true calling – conformity to Christ as we follow Him all the days of our lives.
Luke is Pastor of Discipleship to the community of saints, in Christ, at Nashville UMC.