What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? In Mark 10, Jesus instructs the rich man to sell all he owns, give the money to the poor and follow him. The churches have developed creeds and doctrine, told us what we need to believe and what we need to do to be a follower of Jesus. I asked Google what it means to be a follower and the top four answers were: deny yourself (like everything about yourself – your wisdom, family, friends, preferences), take up your cross, share the gospel and “submit to the narrow gate of Jesus’ authority.”
Frankly, it was exhausting and frustrating trying to figure out who had the right answer! I finally came to the conclusion that (at best) this means different things to different people. Which means I get my own opinion on the matter!
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So, let me begin by broadening our concept because, more than being a Jesus follower, I consider myself a seeker of God. And, as far as I can tell, there is no doctrine or formula that makes finding God a sure thing – not believing wholeheartedly in the creeds, or praying 5 times a day, or selling all we own and giving it to the poor.
Besides, this community is full of intelligent, independent people who I would primarily consider to be leaders, not followers. I could preach to you all day long about becoming like a sheep and following the good shepherd, and you’d let it go in one ear and out the other. I could tell you to deny yourself, or to submit to Jesus’ Lordship in your life and you’d probably either laugh at me, look at me like I’d grown horns, or walk out.
We don’t follow the herd blindly, we think and we question… at one point we may have done things simply because someone told us, but not anymore.
So, what does following look like for us?
Very simply, I think it means making room within ourselves to receive. Money is not inherently good or bad, but clearly it was getting in the rich man’s way of knowing God more deeply. Jesus pointed out his unhealthy attachment to money by suggesting that if he really wanted to be close to God, he should get rid of it and make room for the Divine.
The question then for each of us is, what is getting in the way of a deeper relationship with the Universal Essence?
When I pray, I do so with my hands open to receive. However, metaphorically, if my hands are grasping something too tight, whether it be an idea, tradition, fear, dream, relationship or my to-do list, I won’t be open to receive.
We need to make space for the Divine in our lives and hearts, working on ourselves to get rid of the things that block us from realizing the Divine in our lives. This is our spiritual journey.
Love & Light!