By Tom Chase
Jesus called and still calls His disciples with the phrase, “Come follow Me …” (Mark 1:17). Later, Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me for whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? As I have been processing this question, several things have come together for me.
First, I am seeing that the Christian life is not intended to be lived out of convenience. We get that from the verse above “denying one’s self” and “take up your cross.” These are not terms of a life lived the way we have been programmed by the world to live. We have been called to the opposite:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
Michael Ramsden (with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) also talks about not living life out of convenience from the story of the Good Samaritan. You might remember the story in Luke 10:29-37, about the man who was beaten, stripped of his clothes, robbed, and left for dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite came by, but both avoided the injured man. It was not obvious that the injured man was a Jew. If they knew he was a Jew both of these men would have been compelled by the law to help him (Lev 19:17-18).
We might assume that these men were callous or simply too busy (as suggested by VeggieTales.) But they were not simply too busy and they were not callous. This road was notorious for life-threatening danger and robbery. It was given the name “Bloody Pass” as a result. The man lying there could have been the perfect setup to initiate a robbery. The priest and the Levite act in self-preservation; they want to live.
The story continues and finally a Samaritan came by and helped the man. He ignored the dangers, bandaged the injured man’s wounds, put him on his donkey, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day the Samaritan left but gave money to ensure the injured man would be alright. Absolutely none of this was convenient, and his actions went far beyond simple inconvenience. We have heard about the hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. Apparently it went both ways and ran deep like the feuds between the historical Hatfields and McCoys. Because of this hatred, it is interesting to note that there are no Samaritan towns even remotely near this road — only Jewish ones. He takes an injured man (likely a Jew) into a Jewish town. Not only does this Samaritan risk his life by stopping to help, but he probably also risks his life by taking him to the inn. This is absolutely incredible, inconvenient, self-sacrificing, life-endangering stuff here.
Then, following this parable, the words of Jesus to the expert of the law are amazing and alarming: “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37b). This cuts me to the core; when I look in the mirror of my life, I’m not sure the reflection is too appealing.
Second, this call to follow Jesus again hits me between the eyes from a book I have been reading, The 10 Second Rule by Clare De Graaf. I certainly cannot do the book justice in the few words I have here, but it challenges believers to live a life of simple obedience to Jesus. The author was challenged by the words of Jesus in the Gospels that he found “amazing” and “alarming,” like:
“Do good to those who hate you.”
“Deny yourself daily.”
“I came not to be served, but to serve.”
“Whoever wants to be first … must become last.”
“No man can serve two masters.”
De Graaf didn’t know many Christians who lived like that, but he began a journey to pursue a life of following Jesus with the motto he calls “The 10 Second Rule”: “Just do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do.” Simple obedience to Jesus is anything but simple. When we look at the standing orders He has given us we understand that life will be anything but sensible. It will not necessarily be safe, but it will be an adventure of walking with Jesus daily! Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). I know that just doing the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do sounds very simplistic at first. It has the benefit of not getting bogged down in the “God’s will for me” debate and allowing one to begin following Jesus today. The 10 Second Rule is in short a way to move me from inaction to action. Many of the things I am reasonably certain Jesus wants me to do I simply do not do because they go against my sensibilities and I can talk myself out of doing them. The book goes on to share some real, practical ways of how to begin and continue walking this radical way of living, which is in fact following Jesus.
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.
It has been found difficult and left untried.”
– G.K. Chesterton
I don’t want to be that guy who has been unwilling to follow Jesus. So I am being challenged to live out this life not just when it is convenient for me but to live in simple obedience to the One I have committed to follow. It is my desire to pursue Jesus with a lot less self-centeredness and a renewed willingness to submit to His direction. I am reminded of an old song, “I’m Gonna Follow You” by Silverwind. I think it expresses some of my heart. If you’re also a bit challenged by all this, maybe this song can be your song to Jesus too!
I never thought that I could ever feel this way
You’ve got me falling more in love with you each day
You made my life matter, like no one could do
So for ever after, I’m following you.
I’m gonna follow you.
Some people tell me that I take a road so rough
They say I’m crazy but I say it’s only love
No it doesn’t matter what people may do
‘Cause forever after I’m following you forever
I’m gonna follow you.
Though the road may be narrow and the road may seem hard
Lord I’m still going to follow and I’ll never turn back and I’ll get through ‘till I do
I’m gonna follow you!