A familiar praise chorus acknowledges that Jesus leads us step by step. It also says that we’ll follow Him all of our days. That’s quite a declaration!
The dictionary definition offers several definitions for the word follow:
- To come or go after
- To take as a model; imitate
- To watch or to listen to closely
All of the above fit the context of that familiar chorus. They also fit the context of John 10:27 – “My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
So, to follow Jesus as our Shepherd means that we go after Him. We pursue Him even though we’d rather run ahead when He walks too slow for our liking. We persevere when the path’s steep and we’d rather sit down and stay put.
To follow Jesus means we imitate Him. We love and serve others as He did. We spend alone time with God because He did. We focus our eyes on heaven rather than on earthly matters because that’s what He did.
To follow Jesus means we obey Him. We accept by faith that He always has our best interest at heart, and so we do what He says because we trust and love Him.
To follow Jesus means we watch His behavior, His response to people, and His relationship with the Father. We also listen closely to His voice. We expect Him to interact with us, to engage with us in our day-to-day lives. We expect Him to talk with us, and so we listen for His voice. And because we know Him, we can recognize it when He speaks.
Following Jesus wholeheartedly requires courage because doing so makes us a target for Satan. If he considers us a threat (that’s a good thing), he’ll do whatever he can to discourage or destroy us. It often results in our being misunderstood or criticized. It sometimes means walking a path that leads to a place we’d never choose to go on our own.
Thankfully, following Jesus means we’re never on our own. He promises never to leave us or forsake us. He’s with us at all times and in all places, and His presence brings both peace and empowerment.
Why, oh why, would we ever choose to follow anyone or anything other than Jesus?