Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Follow Christ? But I thought He was in me

We hear all the time we follow Christ. How can I follow Him if He is IN me? I can follow someone who walks in front of me but how do I follow someone who lives IN me?

Following Jesus Before the Spirit Came
If you look at the word "follow" in the NT you will see that following Christ does not refer to keeping rules or following teachings. Most of the times Jesus said, "Follow Me" He was speaking before the Spirit came. It is very obvious, yet somehow missed, that when Jesus said, "Follow Me" He meant "physically follow me." We think of following Jesus today as "following His teachings." Jesus didn't mean that then. When He said "follow me" He didn't mean "Stay here, think about what I've taught you, and put it into practice while I go on to the next town." No one would've taken it that way when the man is right there in front of them. He spoke with many people. There is no telling how much the various people had heard Jesus teach up to the point when He says, "Follow me." It would have been silly for Jesus to mean "follow my teachings" when the people had barely heard Him teach.

I could say, "I don't follow Christ's teachings" because much of them were old covenant teachings to people under the law. When you are following someone that implies that you can fall behind or even "get lost." Many times Jesus actually referred to things like that regarding the people who were physically following Him. Today many think those scriptures are warnings about "losing salvation" but they are not. They are actually addressed to the Jews who followed Jesus so that they might stay with Him close enough to the resurrection to trust in it & be saved.

Following Jesus Now that the Spirit Has Come
In John 21 after Jesus had already given Peter the Spirit He said to Him "Follow Me." The word follow means "accompany," similar to how Jesus "saw" what the Father was doing and joined in, though the Father was not physically visible (John 5:19-20,30). "These are the ones who accompany the Lamb wherever He goes" (Revelation 14:4).

Since you can't see Him, to follow Jesus doesn't mean to follow behind. You can't fall behind or get lost. Following Jesus means to "walk by the Spirit," to put your mind on spiritual things. To put it simply, following Jesus is to stay aware of Him & pay attention to Him. He is always with you, always yoked alongside you. To follow or not follow Him is a matter of awareness. To not follow Him is to be like someone who "zones out" while watching tv or on a computer while someone is with you & talking to you.

We always accompany Christ in one sense. My heart accompanies me wherever I go likewise Christ accompanies me wherever I go. So when Jesus said "accompany me" He wasn't talking about sitting in the back seat with headphones on. He was talking about sitting up front and having a relationship with Him. It is a relational & mental accompanying not a physical one or even a spiritual one.

In John 21 Peter was out fishing. He had the Spirit inside of him yet when Jesus showed up he acted as if Jesus were not already there. There was nothing wrong with him going fishing, Jesus had told them to wait for the power of the Spirit. However they already had the presence of the Spirit. To follow Jesus is to follow the Spirit, to listen to Him.

Seeing yourself as a "follower of Christ" can be yet another reason why people see relationship with God as so hard. But Following Christ is not something where we strive to keep up. It is the awareness of our oneness with God.

Related Posts
"Following" God Without Predicting the Path

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