It’s so easy to be a follower these days. With a touch of the Twitter app on my iphone, I can become a follower, just like that. I can get a message (or 10) from Beth Moore and C. S. Lewis every day. (I’m pretty sure someone else is tweeting on behalf of C. S. Lewis.) If I were so inclined, I could become a follower of any number of celebrities, politicians and athletes. (I’m not so inclined.) Curiously, this morning I discovered that I have one Twitter follower, which is interesting given the fact that I’ve never actually tweeted anything.
I hope all this “following” on social media isn’t watering down my understanding of what it means to be a disciple. Jesus defined it this way: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) According to Jesus, this is a bigger commitment than checking in occasionally to get a pithy 140-character-or-less inspirational message. There is no “unfollow” button to hit when things start to get uncomfortable. Denying self and taking up a cross doesn’t get a lot of thumbs-up “likes”.
Perhaps it wasn’t that much different two thousand years ago. There was no Facebook or Twitter, but people were still looking for a quick and easy route to eternal life. The rich, young ruler in Mark 10 approached Jesus with the right posture (“he ran up to him and fell on his knees before him”), with genuine respect (“Good teacher”), with an insightful question (“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”) and with impressive credentials (“all these I have kept since I was a boy”). But instead of a pat on the back, Jesus challenged the wealthy young man with the concept of sacrifice. That’s where the conversation ended. We don’t know how long the man considered Jesus’ invitation to sell his possessions and become a follower, but we do know he rose to his feet without another word and walked away sad.
Reading my tweets and liking me on Facebook and even following this blog doesn’t cost anything. Being a follower of Jesus, however, does come with a cost, if it’s the real thing.
Are you following me?