What does it mean to follow someone? In our world it doesn’t mean much. It usually means that we go in the same direction as the one we are following. But in Jesus’ day follow me actually had a depth of meaning. When Jesus spoke to His disciples and said “Follow Me…” they knew it was more than traveling together.
A modern image of following someone would be an apprenticeship. When you apprentice for a trade, you are a student or follower, and you allow the teacher or master to guide you and train you to become like him. If your studying to be an electrician you will follow a journeyman or master and learn to be an electrician by doing what you see done.
Following in Jesus’ day meant more than just learning a trade. It also meant learning a life. When you followed someone you became like the one you followed. You learned to think and act like them. You didn’t trade in your personal identity at all, but you submitted your life to the one you followed, and you learned to live life the same way they did. It went deeper than apprenticeship. You learned a lifestyle, a world view, a way of relating to the world around you, and you took on the mission of the one you followed. Your character changed, your life mission changed. Peter and the other disciples left their respective trades and jobs to become like Jesus.
Paul, who encountered Jesus and became a follower stated in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.“ NIV Paul understood what it meant to follow. In essence you become like the one you choose to follow after. You take on their traits, some of their habits. You allow them to speak into your life and character and to build you up. And you take on their mission. You become an electrician if your following one.
If you look at your life who would you say you follow. As Christians we are called to follow Jesus. But we don’t see much of the life of Christ when we look at our lives. Wolfgang Samson wrote “In the West, the lifestyles of many Christians are still centered on careers, TV, hobbies, privacy, and pets. We sugarcoat our faith with a thin layer of Christian behavior: attending church services, praying before meals, and listening to Christian music. This is not much different from the lifestyle of the average person living in the West where almost everything is geared toward the pursuit of personal security, success, fun, and even individual spiritual growth.” We call ourselves Christians, or followers of Christ but are we following? A follower always becomes like the one they follow.
One quick way to check if you are following Jesus is to see if you are passionate about His mission. Jesus stated His mission was “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10 NLT And He stated that following Him would have us taking on His mission. “Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” Matthew 4:19 NLV. If we are not becoming sharing the hope that we have with those we come in contact with and seeking to connect them with Jesus, can we say we are following? Someone once wrote “If your not fishing, your not following.” Who are you following? Does it need to change? Only you can decide who you want to follow. Everyone follows someone. We need to decide if they are worth following and if we really want to become like them.