GOSPEL INVITATIONS: COME AND FOLLOW
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said. – Matthew 4:19
Jesus gives us multiple invitations. The purpose of this is not to give us a multiple choice of invitations to choose from, but rather to connect us to God in multiple ways. We are so broken by sin that the different pieces of our beings that have wandered away from God need different invitations to return to God.
One of these invitations is Christ’s invitation for us to follow him. This portrays the new life that Christ invites us into as a journey, not an event. In the case of an event, there is a completion and you look back on the event that happened as something in the past. But while that may be true of other invitations that Christ gives us, it is not true of this one. This invitation is tri-dimensional.
In the first dimension, rather than a completion of an event to look back on, is past, namely a beginning of a process we look back on. We do not look back on our relationship with Jesus as an event that is finished, but as a journey with a beginning. The second dimension of this invitation is present, or present continuous to be exact. Jesus did not just invite us to start following him at some point in the past, but we are invited to be following him presently, in our present circumstances, relationships, and experiences. The third dimension of this invitation is future, for the destination of our following is ahead in our tomorrows, and so we are invited to follow Christ going forward.
But what does it mean to follow. First it means to go where Christ is going and has gone. We are invited to daily discern the direction in which Christ is moving or the direction in which he intends to take different aspects of our lives, or the destination where his journey ended, and then respond by going along with it, going along with him. Second, to follow means to go with Christ. This carries the idea that Jesus is inviting us to be his companions regardless of the direction he goes or its destination. We are being invited to enjoy and revel in his presence. Third, to follow means to walk behind Christ. This carries the idea that he knows the way, or better yet, he is the way, and so he must stay ahead at all times. He must be the lead in our lives. To get ahead of him and take charge of our own journeys is to no longer follow him, but to have him follow us. Following him means submitting to his authority as the one in charge of the journeys of our lives. Lastly, to follow means to imitate. We do not just move towards Christ, or with Christ, or behind Christ, but we also move like Christ.
As you can see, even this single invitation to follow Christ has different dimensions, and our privilege is to respond to each of them, to make sure that we are not moving towards Christ so much that we forget to move with him, or forget to walk behind him, or forget to walk with him, or forget to walk like him. We do not dwell on the beginning of our journey with him in the past so much that we forget to respond to the part of the journey with is continuing today or fail to prepare for the part of the journey which is yet to come. Did you start following Jesus? Are you still following Jesus? Will you be following Jesus? Are you going where Christ went? Are you enjoying being with Christ? Are you submitting to Christ’s lead and authority? Are you living by the principles Christ did? If your answer is negative or uncertain for any of these questions, “Follow me” is today’s invitation from Christ to you.