I don’t use social media too much, so I don’t have that many followers. Truth be told, I have in the negative numbers, and nowhere near what Oprah, Ellen, Kim or Justin has. Similarly, I don’t follow anyone on social media; it’s not something I spend a lot of time on. What does it mean to follow someone on social media, anyway? I “click” on them and then what happens? Do they really care if I’m following them? Is there any benefit? What do they (or I) get out of the deal?
Jesus had a different idea of following. He made the invitation to follow Him in Luke 9:23-27, “if anyone would come after me.” What does it take to follow Jesus? He said His followers must do three things: deny themselves, pick up their crosses every day, and follow Him. Denying yourself means you don’t get what you want. It means you’re not in charge, you’re not on the throne. You are not the center of the universe. It involves humility, surrender, trust, and putting yourself under Christ’s authority. He is King and Lord, and He gets His way, not yours.
Picking up your cross daily means identifying with Christ and suffering as He suffered. It goes beyond the normal suffering that all humanity experiences. It means picking up our own cross to die as Jesus died on His. We are heirs with Christ provided we suffer with Him. We share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings as we follow Him. We are engaged in conflict, rejection, and suffering as He was, but it was for His joy, and it will result in joy for us as well.
Finally, we follow Him. We go where He leads us, to tax collectors, sinners, and those who are sick in need of a physician. We go where He sends us, to our neighborhoods and workplaces, sometimes out of state and even to other countries, as He wills, according to His good plans and purposes. Does the clay argue with the potter? We accept His grace and mercy as He leads us and we follow.
Following on social media is easy and meaningless. There is no cost. So what those people are following you or you’re following them? It’s like earning points on a video game – they don’t exist in the real world. Following Jesus, though, has bite. It demands your life, your soul, your all. Following Jesus has eternal implications and consequences. Following Jesus weighs heavily on family, time and money, and work. Following Jesus is the most costly and rewarding commitment you could ever make.