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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Follow Me! Alone



This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
John 21:19, KJV
This command Jesus gives is one of urgency, to be sure – nothing is more important. It is a command of difficulty – it is never easy to follow another faithfully, when our own heart leads with such pride. But, in addition to these things, it is a command of devotion. Jesus does not allow us to follow Him and another, or follow Him and ourselves. We are to follow Him alone, with a steadfastness that denies our very nature.

An Exclusive Command

Consider Elijah, many centuries ago, doing battle with the prophets of Ba'al who served the queen Jezebel. He brought them to Mount Carmel and stood alone against (essentially) the entire Israeli nation. There were 7,000 in the entire country served the true God, but they did not stand alongside Elijah on this day. In the loneliness which anyone who has ever stood up for what is right understands, this man of God faced a world of wickedness alone.

Physically, there was no reason for them to withstand him. They outnumbered him beyond comprehension, and he could have been slaughtered with ease. But God's hand was upon him, he spoke with boldness and the people listened.

Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people did not answer him a word.
1 Kings 18:21 NASB

The word translated 'hesitate' in the New American Standard Bible and 'waver' in the King James is the Hebrew word פּסח (pasach) which means 'to limp' or 'to dance.' Imagine someone trying to stand on two rafts, dancing back and forth between them, never placing their weight on either one. How long will you dance between these two masters? Serve the one who is god and abandon the other.

This attitude of true devotion was not fashionable and never has been. A big tent is always more comfortable than a smaller one. The Israelites of Elijah's day had not abandoned the Lord God – by no means! They had simply added other gods to him. Ba'al became His friend and Asherah Hid bride. To the Israelites, as long as they still had faith in the true God, what was the problem? God saw these people as adulterers. Wicked liars who claimed both their rightful husband and their lovers and denied any guilt.

"Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations to which they will be carried captive, how I have been hurt by their adulterous hearts which turned away from Me, and by their eyes which played the harlot after their idols; and they will loathe themselves in their own sight for the evils which they have committed, for all their abominations.
Ezekiel 6:9 NASB

Jesus feels the same way. We may not serve Him and another – it is an unacceptable spiritual adultery. He demands our sole devotion. To follow Jesus is to lay aside any voice that draws us away from Him – "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." When we realize that earthly love is a shadow of the great heavenly love, this makes perfect sense. The lover does not see any but their beloved and will not allow any distraction. To try and follow Jesus and another human being will always lead to conflict. That person will never be in perfect agreement with the commands of our Lord, and when there is contrast, we must choose who we will obey. Jesus speaks through the millenia and says 'Follow Me.' He is 'the way the truth and the life' and everyone else is an imposter and not the true shepherd. While affection and devotion to those we can see is easy we must choose to follow Jesus alone.

This is perhaps the most difficult part of the commandment – that it is exclusive. The childishness which desires to be pleasing to all must give way to maturity. Please God and leave the consequences to Him.

Remember the word of the Lord Jesus:

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me."
Matthew 10:34-38, NASB

If you follow after your family, children or anyone else, at the expense of God, you are not a disciple. If you make the decision to reject this teaching, have the integrity to not describe yourself as a Christian. Jesus says: “Follow Me.” Does this allow us to forsake our families and other obligations? Of course not. God calls us to carry out those things. But when the moment comes where you must choose between pleasing your God and pleasing the person dearest to your heart, Jesus tenderly says in your ear “Follow Me.” When you are tempted to compromise on some teaching of Jesus, He repeats “Follow Me.” When the things that you consider important – politics, love, money, power, fame or all that confounds run contrary to God's command, the refrain must echo through the ages: “Follow Me.”

May we take this heart. May we realize that it is a hard teaching, but we cannot serve two masters and we must break our own rebellious hearts and submit to God. May we wash everything we do in the water of His words and refuse to let anyone tempt us away.

My life, my love I give to Thee
Thou lamb of God who died for me;
O may I ever faithful be,
My Savior and my God!

Refrain

I'm living for Him who died for me
How happy now my life shall be
I'm living for Him who died for Me
My Savior and my God

Refrain

I now believe Thou dost receive
For thou hast died that I might live;
And now henceforth I trust in thee
My Savior and my God!

Refrain

O Thou Who Died on Calvary,
To save my soul and make me free,
I'll consecrate my life to Thee,
My Savior and my God!

Refrain

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