What does it look like to follow Jesus today? Right now.
The original gang: Rugged and unruly fisherman. Zealots, longing for Jewish redemption. A lowly tax-collector. A self-seeking treasurer and others.
Twelve are highlighted, and many more joined. They all responded to a simple call: “Follow me.”
But following Jesus was not a one-time decision. It was a daily exercise of listening, observing, and learning. With more profound moments of deciding if they were going to continue (John 6:60-70).
The disciples had the seemingly overwhelming advantage of tangibly hearing Jesus’ voice, while watching him back it up with actions. He didn’t give them a textbook, ask them to study it, and then figure out how best to follow Him. He guided them with profound teaching, loving instruction, and the occasional rebuke.
Would you rather…Holy Spirit or Jesus?
And then we come across this crazy passage:
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)
Is this like when you promise your kid that moving to Minnesota is going to be way better than this crummy, sun-drenched beach town? Trying to make the most of a bleak reality?
Honestly, how is trying to digest and understand a Bible, written in a different lifetime and language, and then discern what and how to apply the truths in today’s culture, better than talking directly to God incarnate? I’ll choose being three steps behind Jesus, listening to his wisdom (even if it’s in confusing parables).
Let’s keep on reading:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13)
Holy Spirit speaks, guiding us. I often believe that the Holy Spirit will convict me, zapping me with an intense level of guilt to make sure I’m aware of my wrongdoing. But guiding me towards truth? Showing me the right path?
What if the Holy Spirit is teaching us and offering us invitations, similar to Jesus? And the Spirit is with us always, instead of taking naps on a boat or spending time alone in the mountains. If the Holy Spirit is actively guiding us, I could see how this could be better.
God, is that you?
We are often scared of the idea of God speaking to us, fearing a mystical derailment as a cult leader or losing truth in the shouts of my own desires. And these are legit cautions.
What if the voice of Jesus, always verified with the truth of Scripture and discerned through trusted friends, was alive today, inviting us to follow Him? We need to recapture our ability to follow Jesus.
But many of us are intimidated by the Bible and have no clue how to have a dynamic encounter with God in Scripture. We also rarely slow down enough to create space for God to speak to us, swept away by distraction and hurry. And it will be hard to respond to His voice if we go at this alone.
Being alive to God in Scripture. Living a Sabbath rhythm. Navigating the faith journey with Soul Friends. These are the pillars that help us hear God’s invitations. This is how we follow Jesus in any context.
Imagine a community of Christ-followers, in response to God’s invitations in their lives, loving the people around them with courage and creativity.
Compelled replaces convicted. Present takes over performance. Relationship informs responsibility.
It is possible. This is what we are chasing.