2017-08-18 / Chaplain's News

Sin, lack of belief does not disqualify those who chose to follow

CHAPLAIN’S CORNER
CHAPLAIN (MAJ.) TRACY HUDGINS
706th Military Intelligence Group

“Follow me!” is the last jump command spoken by an Army Special Forces jump master before they step out into the sky.

“Lead the way!” is the response given by jumpers as they follow the jump master out of the airframe.

The very definition of a leader requires that they are being followed. With that in mind, let’s consider what it really takes to be a Jesus follower.

First and foremost, being a sinner doesn’t disqualify you, it’s a prerequisite. Every single person that Jesus invited to follow him and every single person that said yes, was a sinner, every single one.

The only people that resisted following Jesus were the people who thought they were perfect.

The first person Jesus asked to follow him was Matthew. Before Matthew has prayed anything, before Matthew has committed anything, before Matthew has repented of anything, before Matthew has promised anything.

He says Matthew just as you are would you take a baby step and follow me? Matthew’s invitation to follow teaches us that there is no sin, there is no habit, there is no addiction, there is no illness, there is no problem that puts you outside the circle of those that have been invited to follow Jesus.

The second one, now this is hard to even write. Being an unbeliever doesn’t disqualify you. You say chaplain “I can’t follow Jesus, I don’t even believe any of that stuff about Jesus.”

So, listen. None of Jesus’ earliest followers believed. None. In fact, when you read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John it’s so funny. Two years of following, then Jesus does something and it says and “they believed.”

So, what had they been doing for two years, not believing? In fact, Jesus was constantly saying to his closest followers, the ones who were with him all the time, your unbelief, your unbelief, he would chastise them for their lack of belief.

What does their lack of believe teach us? That it doesn’t matter how little faith you have or even if you have no faith, you are invited to become a follower of Jesus.

Number three, the invitation to follow is purely an invitation to relationship. This is huge. It’s not an invitation to the Ten Commandments, it’s not even an invitation to obedience.

The Apostle Paul said it this way, in a verse that seldom gets any airplay. He said that it’s “God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.” God’s kindness.

Do you know how you would experience someone’s kindness? You have to be in their proximity. You have to be in a relationship of some sort with them. You have to be in the vicinity.

Paul says as you move, as you begin to follow, as you take baby steps, the thing that leads to repentance (which means change) is not the fear of hell you know that doesn’t work. It’s God’s kindness especially his kindness demonstrated through Christ.

And the fourth one, it’s a big one. Following Jesus forces me to focus on where you are rather than where you are not. This is why you have to follow. If you’re a Christian and you’re not actively following, you could become like the Pharisees who lived every day adhering to rules and judging those who didn’t.

A follower’s only responsibility is to the best of their ability, simply follow Jesus. That I become so aware of my responsibility I don’t have time to judge you.

The other way I’ve heard it said is, the more conscious I am of the work God has yet to do in me the less critical I am of what God is yet to do in you.

So, as we consider what it takes to be Jesus’ follower, the question is “am I following” not what do I know, not how well do I pray, not how consistently do I attend chapel, not how much scripture do I know, not even how obedient am I but am I actively following?

Jesus’ invitation to “follow me” is extended to every single person on the planet. Sin does not disqualify you, a lack of belief does not disqualify you. It’s an invitation to an amazing relationship characterized not by 1,000 words but by a simple word: the word follow.

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