I don’t think we have given enough thought to what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We know we are supposed to do it, that he is our good shepherd, but we gloss over the real implications of what following means for us. Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that to follow Jesus means we choose the destination and the route, and he only leads the way.
Most of us are not personally familiar with sheep and shepherds, so maybe we can get a pass on not understanding that metaphor in scripture. In reality, though, sheep get no say in where they go or how they get there. They trust the shepherd to take them to the best place by the best route. Their one job is to follow.
Trust in Following
I’m not entirely sold that Jesus was trying to say that we are just like sheep, though he uses that comparison many times. I think he is trying to say that we can trust him as sheep trust their shepherd. Sheep believe that their shepherd has their best at heart, that he will give them all they need – nothing more and nothing less – at the perfect time.
Our challenge is, unlike sheep, we tend to want to question Jesus and his plan for us. We want to go our way to arrive at a place of our choosing. We want Jesus to come along. We might need something he can give us or need him to get us out of a fix. We want him with us, but we feel better in the lead. If we have a choice, we prefer to be in control rather than out of control. We want the benefits of sonship without the responsibilities that title carries. We want Jesus as a friend but struggle to accept him as Lord.
How Will We Follow?
So, what do you choose today? Will you lead, or will you follow? Will you trust God, or would you rather trust yourself? The difficulty is we can’t see the end of the path. We can’t even see the way except for the step we are on right now. The only one we can trust is the one who has gone before us, who made us, and knows us more deeply than we know ourselves.
Are you willing to say no to yourself, take up whatever cross is necessary, and follow Jesus? Does your trust run deeper than your understanding?
The essence of true discipleship is this – letting go of you and taking hold of Jesus. You will only get there by following him.