Re-capturing the title Follower
What does it mean to be a follower?
Maybe we could ask Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Barack Obama, Rihana, Lady Gaga, Ellen DeGeneres, Justin Timberlake, Kim Kardashian West, Brittney Spears or Cristiano Ronaldo. These ten individuals are Twitter’s Top Ten most followed individuals, with a combined 615 million followers.
Here’s Wikipedia’s simple definition of a Twitter follower:
On the Twitter website “following” someone means you will see their tweets (Twitter updates) in your personal timeline. Twitter lets you see who you follow and also who is following you. Followers are people who receive other people’s Twitter updates.
That’s a pretty low bar for a definition of a follower though.
A DISCIPLE could also be called a student, a learner, an apprentice, a mimic, a mentee, a trainee… or a follower!
Jesus had a lot to say about what it means to be a follower.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” John 1:43
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 (Mark 1:17)
And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:22
To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Luke 9:59
Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Luke 9:61
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. Matthew 9:9 (Mark 2:14, Luke 5:27)
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24 (Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23)
Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21 (Mark 10:21, Luke 18:22)
Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Matthew 19:28
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
“If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26
(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:19
Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” John 21:22
In our 4 Chair Discipling training, we outline the disciple-making process with four specific challenges from Jesus.
1. “Come and see”
2. “Follow Me”
3. “Fish for Men”
4. “Bear Much Fruit”
Once a spiritual seeker puts their faith in Christ for salvation, they move from Chair One (Spiritually Lost) to Chair Two (Believer). At this point, the invitation from Christ is to follow Him. We are to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6).
If we’re truly following Jesus, it will have a direct impact in two areas.
1. Our CHARACTER
The way we respond to adversity, how we treat people, the words that we speak, our attitude towards the world around us… all of this will begin to reflect a Christ-like character. The Apostle Paul gives us a great description of what a Christ-like character looks like.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
2. Our PRIORITIES
What is important to Jesus will be important to us. So the question is, what is important to Jesus? What were His priorities? Six simple words define the priorities of Christ.
Love God. Love People. Make Disciples.
If we’re following Jesus, these six words will begin to define our life as well.
Does this mean it’s easy to be a follower? Do the character and priorities of Christ come easy for us? Is following Jesus a snap?
Re-read Jesus’ words above to His would-be followers.
(I’m waiting… are you finished yet? OK, continue reading now.)
What part of deny yourself or take up your cross sounds easy? To be a follower is a commitment. It’s not as simple as clicking the follow button and checking for updates. To be a follower is a process of growing to be more and more like Jesus each and every day. And here’s the remarkable thing. Even Jesus had to grow. What? Yes, you heard me right. Even Jesus had to grow.
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52
“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.” Hebrews 5:8
Can I tell you something else that’s remarkable? Our growth as a disciple hasn’t been left completely up to us. God is more interested in our spiritual growth than we are. He has given us His Spirit to help us grow. The Holy Spirit is our secret weapon when it comes to following Jesus! In fact, Jesus Himself relied on the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1,14,18).
Like Jesus, let’s commit to grow. Let’s walk as Jesus walked. And let’s invite those we are investing in to do the same. Let’s raise the bar for those we lead on what it means to be a follower.
For Further Consideration
1. Ask the people you lead to define “follower.” What do they think it means to truly be a follower of Jesus?
2. Jesus spent 18-21 months investing in His initial disciples, helping them to understand what it meant to be a follower. Why do you think He took so much time? Do you think you can “microwave” followers, or must they be developed in the “crock pot?”
3. What are you doing to intentionally pass on the character and priorities of Christ to those you lead? In what ways are you inviting them to “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”