Follow the Leader

Throughout my life I have never had much trouble believing in things. The tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and at one point the Easter Bunny were are all factual figures in my life upon whom I knew I could rely. As I grew older and maturity and reality dawned on me, I abandoned belief in those entities because they weren't real. Sure, they are still real to children across the world and I would never dream of breaking one of their hearts by giving up the goods (so don't let them read this!), but I can remember the disappointment mixed with relief when I found out that there were other reasons for all the candy, presents, and money.

Why was I relieved to find out these characters were not actually real? I believe it was because I had come to rely on them for so many years for momentary things, not long-term solutions. Once I ran out of teeth then I was out of luck. Santa only came once a year, but what if he somehow forgot? And the Easter Bunny was always very odd to me, nevertheless he was a constant source of those amazing Cadbury Eggs that I loved so much. There was always this fear that one of these guys or girls would not deliver and that I would be left with nothing to show for my belief.

Belief is a good thing. The foundation of belief is faith, that unwavering understanding that what you can't see will truly deliver when you need it most. But much of what we say we believe is not really build on faith at all, but rather on the shaky legs of convenience. For instance, I believe a chair will hold me up when I sit in it, not because I put such value in the chair but rather because it's what chairs are supposed to do. I don't trust chairs for anything. Instead, I have expectations of them.

True belief leads to something more costly. That is because when you or I are ready to fully invest ourselves into the person or idea in which we believe, we step into a whole new realm of reality and identity: We become followers.

Belief is the easy part. All we have to do is say it and no one may know otherwise. But in order to follow, there has to be movement toward that which we believe. And when there is movement, there is evidence that what we say we believe as fully a reality.

When it comes to Jesus, followers are who He wants. Those who, once they put their hand to the plow, never look back (Luke 9:62). Believers pack the pews at set times and then leave their beliefs at the door until the next gathering. Followers have their faith with them always because they live that faith - indeed it is just as strong whether in the assembly of other followers or at work or in line at the grocery store.

If I don't see my need for Jesus, then simple belief is enough. Anyone can say that they believe in something or someone as long as it is convenient and gets them things that they want. When I choose to follow and not simply believe, I do so expecting to see God move and work in my life because that is what I truly want and need so desperately. I believe in Jesus and therefore I choose to follow Him with everything I have and all that I am.

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