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31st August: Following

If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and follow me. Luke 9:23

Jesus Christ tells us that we are to follow him. It is a very simple but demanding command. What does it involve?

Firstly it involves staying close to him. We cannot follow if Jesus is already out of sight and earshot. When I am driving a car my sense of direction is poor. Sometimes, in cities which are strange to me, a friend will say: 'Follow my car until we are on the outskirts of the town -- then I will stop and explain the rest of the way to you'. So I follow behind him. I stick close to him, eagerly, hurrying through amber lights, resenting any car which comes between his and mine. I dread losing sight of him. If I do, I shall, quite literally be lost. But am I as keen to stay close to Jesus Christ? Do I relate all that I do and think to him? Have I spoken to him today, or asked him what he wants to say to me through his word? Have I allowed other things to come between me and him?

Secondly, it involves obedience. Right from childhood we find that obedience is hard work. It goes against the grain. Yet Jesus said: 'You are my friends if you obey me' (Jn 15:14 LB). How determined are we to obey him? When I was working (for the second time!) to take the Primary FRCS examination, a friend said to me: 'Working for Primary is total war!' He was right. It demanded everything I had. Let's ask ourselves today: 'Am I prepared to be as wholehearted and singleminded in knowing and obeying Christ as in my work for higher degrees or in my effort to get the job I want?'

Perhaps the key is in the self-denial commanded in Luke 9:23. Often today our natural inclination will go directly against what we know is the right thing to do. We may recall something in a clinical examination which we forgot to do. We should like to finish our book, our television programme or our thesis, but soon the patient will settle down for the night. We should go now to see him.

And as we hurry down the draughty corridor to the ward, we are suddenly wonderfully aware that the Lord Jesus is with us and that to follow him is better than anything else.

Lord Jesus Christ, I intend to follow you today.
Please give me strength to do so.

Further reading: Lk 14:26-33. Mk 14:53-54, 66-72. Jn 14:15-24.


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