A man by the name of Michael H Hart, wrote a book called “The 100” way back in 1978. In this book, he listed the top 100 people who he thought, have been historically the influential leaders in our world. Jesus Christ made the list! He wasn’t first though. Hart placed Jesus as third on that list. In front of Jesus were Mohammad and Sir Isaac Newton.
I think Hart got it all wrong. Jesus Christ should have been top of that list. Interestingly, when challenged, Michael Hart agreed that the teachings of Jesus were the most remarkable and ethical that had ever been seen. He further stated, that if these teachings had been the most widely followed, then Jesus would have indeed been number one.
Sadly, not everyone follows Jesus! And even more sad, is the fact that many of those who say they are followers of Jesus simply don’t live like they are. Too many “Jesus Followers” don’t live out Jesus’s teachings. They live just like the world does and I think have therefore disqualified Jesus or brought Him and His teachings into question.
Yes, I know that no Christian is perfect! You just need to look at me. But, as Jesus Followers, we at least need to live out an authentic, real faith that transforms us more each day that eventually we aren’t recognisable anymore because all people can see is Jesus in us. Surely, following Jesus means that I am living out an authentic faith and it is measured through the way I live and conduct myself in every area of my life. Surely followership is measured by my lifestyle?
Being a follower of Jesus must be more than a decision or a conversion. Surely following Jesus needs to be more than going to church on a Sunday or a Bible Study mid-week? Following Jesus must mean more than just following a set of laws or regulations or simply being a good person. Surely, following Jesus means a total life style change, a complete attitude change; surely its measured by a mind-set change, a heart change and most definitely a directional change. Once I was this heading along a road that led to death and destruction but now after meeting Jesus, I have become a different person who does an about turn, going in a completely different way that releases life, that Jesus life in all its fullness. Surely following Jesus means that I am transformed when I meet Him and I become a totally new person in every way. And then, I authentically live this out moment by moment each day, following this Jesus by living out every principle, every proverb, every story and teaching of Jesus. Surely, to follow Jesus means just that! I follow Him by looking at His example and I emulate that model. That means then, that I look at Him and His life, I take that prototype and I absorb and learn from it all and then I live my life exactly in the same way He did.
Following Jesus means that I am His apprentice. An apprentice is a student. A student is a learner. A learner is someone who learns from a teacher, taking up their knowledge and beliefs; it means going to the one who knows everything and learning the ‘trade’ from him. If that’s going to happen, then you need to be with Him and you need to be like a sponge and absorbed all you can from Him. This is done through reading the Bible, through prayer, through worshipping Him and through hanging with like-minded people who desire to be just like Him. Once you know Him and have seen how to follow Him, then you need to obey Him – in everything. No exceptions! You follow Jesus by being like Jesus in every way, no matter how inconvenient, uncomfortable, costly or difficult it is.
“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.” Luke 9:23-26
According to this scripture, following Jesus means I give up my own way. I take up my cross daily. It also means that every day, I choose and I decide to follow Jesus. And I live that way authentically and consistently so that others around me hunger and thirst for this Jesus and therefore choose and decide to do exactly the same.