The biblical imagery of a path to walk is not obscure to us. This word picture of a way to follow is found throughout holy scripture and is even commonly used outside of Christian orthodoxy. For example, it’s common in American culture for a parent to instruct their children to do what they do. What does it mean to tell your child, “do what I do”? It is just another way of saying what Jesus said so many times, in so many ways, and probably most recognizable as “Follow me”.
Let’s consider the motive behind a daddy who tells his boy, “do what I do” or “follow me”. Often times, the driving motivation for instructing a child to follow the pattern of a parent is due to the child’s innate desire to do whatever is easiest, or whatever is the path of least resistance. in fact, that natural inclination to prefer ease over right, wrong, good, or bad, never leaves us. Example? Think about waking up. Some of you are morning people, and others of your are normal. (haha – normal means; similar to whoever is speaking)
Choices, Choices, Choices…
First, When you first wake up you have choices to make. Will you hit the snooze button or not? Will you linger in the warm covers or get up? Will you make your wife a coffee or get yelled at? Will you spend some time in the Word or not? Will you pray for your day and your family or not? Will you work out or put it off? Will you skip leg day or not?
Second, now that you have made all your relevant choices, how did you decide? Did you you make good choices today? When the path of least resistance was at odds with the right decision, how did you choose? Maybe you passed with flying colors today. If so, great job! If you did decide to take the easy way out, don’t give up. Tomorrow is a new day. But, let’s not loose sight of the point. The temptation to follow the path of least resistance is natural to all of us. We all like ease.
On the other hand, ease isn’t necessarily the enemy. We don’t want to suggest that ease and comfort are intrinsically bad. Ease is only bad when it opposes the good. So then, why point out our natural desire for ease or the pathway of least resistance? I want this in the forefront of our minds as we try to tackle a few passages about following Jesus.
Following the idea of Jesus?
Everyone seems to like the idea of following Jesus, but are we actually following Jesus? Are we even truly willing to follow Jesus? Yes, we say. Of course, we quickly declare. Our positive affirmations of desiring to follow Jesus are wonderful. I want to say Amen to everyone who says, “I want to follow Jesus.” However, I want us to make sure were not guilty of the kind of self-deception that James warns us about (James 1:22).
As Jesus walked the streets of first century Palestine and taught, there were so many people that followed Him for a little while. There certainly were true followers (John 6:68), but why were there so many people only temporary followers of Christ? I obviously can’t answer that exhaustively, and I won’t answer it here as comprehensively as I could try. I simply raise the question so we might wrestle with part of the answer. What part? Why did many people who said yes to follow Jesus quit? Why do many still stray from the path of Christ to go another way after confessing allegiance to the King of Kings? Because we really like the idea of following the Saviour who suffered so we don’t need to suffer. We like the idea of following a Jesus who heals so we can be healthy. We hold fast to the idea of following a King who forgives His debtors so that we may leave behind the trouble of mind that accompanies our transgression. Simply put, we love the idea of following Jesus. At least, following our idea of who Jesus is, because we think He leads us down the path of least resistance.
The Way of Christ is…
The way of Christ is toward a glorious “rest” (Heb 4:9), but the path can be treacherous at times (Heb 4:11). The way of Christ is toward a glorious “crown” (1 Pet 5:4), but the path is through a cross (1 Pet 4:13). The way of Christ is a paradox. The way of Christ is toward life, but through death (Luk 9:24). This flies in the face of popular American ideas of who Jesus is and what following Jesus is like. That’s not new (Joh 6:66), the masses have always misinterpreted or flatly rejected Christ. But we’re not here to talk about the masses. Are you following the way of Christ? I hope you will hear that question as an invitation to join arms together and walk the path as a band of brothers and sisters.
I hope your interest is piqued about the subject of following Christ and you’ll follow along with the next 5 parts. Here’s where we plan on going next: (2) Following Christ is an active faith. (3) That active faith submits to the will of the King. (4) When that faith falters it then repents. (5) With experience that faith teaches younger faith. (6) Till death that faith proves itself as it rests in God alone. This is, in part, the way of Christ.