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A true follower of Jesus Christ

Oct 19, 2011, 2:38 PM | Article By: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye

True followers, that meet all the criteria, in this day and age are a rarity. More and more, it is becoming difficult to find people who will follow a leader wholeheartedly, out of conviction and not out of personal interests. Many, you will admit, are followers because of the material gains that can be derived from such an association. Furthermore, there are those who for whom the benefits have to be immediate or they will look avidly elsewhere.

It was not any different in the first century in Israel either. Our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had followers of diverse categories; the twelve whom he had chosen Himself (with its inner circle comprising Peter, James and John) and the larger group of seventy-two. Of course, there were among the crowds that followed everywhere He went some passionate followers who were not necessarily full-fledged followers. For all of them who yearned to follow Him, He prescribed a profile.

He spelt it out thus: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Denying oneself means forsaking all other leaders, our preoccupations and attractions and clinging only to Him. While that may seem to be a tall order, there is no letting off. He has set very high standards and so are His expectations. In this manner, a true disciple should be someone who remains focused with a clear objective and a sound purpose from which he would never sway.

A follower of this calibre has not opted for an easy life. It is true for all who seek to follow Him. You cannot follow Jesus thinking it is business as usual. You may come as you are but not with all the trappings of worldly possessions, worldly thinking and mannerisms. Not only must you deprive himself, you are stepping into a new mode of existence. You depend on God totally for all your needs.  “Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.” (Matthew 10: 9-10) Those were the instructions Jesus gave as he sent out His disciples into the world.

If you are expecting a life of bliss, strewn with roses, you have backed the wrong horse. Such an engagement demands a life of sacrifice and total commitment. A true follower of Jesus is someone who is singled-out, called to be separate, to be an example; to be a beacon of the abundant kind of life in Christ Jesus that is marked by self-discipline and self-worth. There would be certainly no room for half-measures or half-hearted approaches if one has vowed to be a true follower.  A cursory look at the behaviour of some of Jesus’ disciples will enlighten us further.

Are you following from a distance?

‘When things get tough and rough, the tough get going’ is a common adage but when hell broke loose in Jerusalem and Jesus was being led to Pilate to be judged, all the disciples fled for their lives. One of them, Peter, followed from a safe distance. That was not good enough. He had boasted that when things get tough he would not budge, he was going to stay put. “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33) He could not stand the heat so he settled to follow His Master from a safe distance. Do you want to follow Jesus but not to the extent where you would endanger your life for His sake? Then you love yours so dearly.

Do you follow Him only at night?

Some people operate at night so that they cannot be easily identified. They ‘take shelter’ in the dark such that only a searchlight can dislodge them. Nicodemus was one of Jesus’ most fervent admirers and followers but he did not want to compromise his status as a staunch member of the Sanhedrin – the then Supreme Religious Council. So he chose a convenient time to visit Jesus, when few people were likely to unmask him. Was this the right move? A true follower disregards the time of the day for an encounter with the Master.

You would not be one of those uncommitted followers who would await nightfall to go and consult the occult? Anything we do under cover smacks of evil – we are playing forbidden games. 

Am I following Jesus out of conviction or am I just towing the line? Am I a true follower or just an onlooker? Do I want to reach my best potential as a follower of the Lord? Do I want to follow and yet not carry my cross? Am I able to deny myself as a true follower? Our Lord has set His standard very high that not just anyone can scale. What kind of a true follower are you?