Last year, I visited my brother in Middle-Of-No-Where, Missouri. To guide me on the five hour drive home, I plugged in Gary – my parent’s GPS – and pressed “Go Home.” I followed Gary’s directions the long way out of the neighborhood and the opposite way I thought was correct when I reached the main road.
Gary guided me into another neighborhood and I continued to follow even though I was unsure if I was going the right way. Maybe Gary was just taking me a different way to get to the interstate, I thought. So I kept going, getting even more concerned when he had me turn onto “Road” – no real name, just “Road.” When he said to “Turn on Off Road in 0.8 miles,” I knew he was not taking me to my home.
I trusted the Gary to take me to the right place, but he was not leading me in the right direction. I needed to choose to follow Gary or follow what I thought was the right way.
How often in life do we follow someone or something without evaluating where it will lead us?
In Bible times, there were many people followed Jesus. He was healing sick people, casting out demons, feeding thousands with just a few loaves. He was leading them to pretty amazing places.
But they didn’t look ahead at the full route before leaving. As they heard His radical teaching, they had figure out if Jesus was taking them where they wanted to go or not. Were they ready to socially “off road” with Jesus?
The miracles were cool. The teaching was unlike what they usually heard in the synagogue. Some even said He was the long-awaited Messiah. And so they followed for a while to see where He would take them.
But eventually they had to choose. What were they going to follow? Jesus or their comfortable way of life?
Some chose to turn back to their normal Jewish lives. They didn’t follow Him any longer.
In John 6:67-69 when some of these disciples stopped following, Jesus asked the Twelve disciples: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Bold Simon Peter didn’t miss a beat as he told of the determination of the group, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
We have to ask ourselves the same types of questions they asked. Do we follow Jesus because we’ve heard stories about Him since we could walk? Are we following Him because its feels good to belong to our Christian culture? Are we following Jesus because He is our Savior, the Holy One of God?
Many of us grew up in Sunday school and can answer all the questions (God, Jesus, or the Bible – am I right?). We can rattle off the verses in the Romans Road, and have crazy stories from youth group events and mission trips. Those things are not bad.
But Jesus should be more than stories and gold stars. He should be all we follow. He should be Who we strive to please. We are not to follow Him for the rewards on earth (even if ALL the spaces are filled in with stickers!). For those of us who have put our faith in Christ alone by grace alone, we live for the eternal King and need to be building His kingdom.
The Twelve disciples chose to set their lives apart to follow Jesus. We are challenged to make the same decision. Are we going to choose to follow Jesus who offers eternal life to us because He is the Holy One of God? Or are we going to play it safe and stick with our comfortable life as “good Christians?”
Now is the time to decide: Who are you following?
P.S. It turned out that Gary had the wrong address set as “home” and so was navigating me to a different place than I wanted to go. I did eventually turn around, entered the right address, and safely made it to my correct home.