Sometimes I can’t stand all the “titles” we Christians come to have. “Member” always seems too formal to me, and it also seems to imply that we belong more to an individual church than to the body of Christ. “Christian” also seems a bit too formal and institutional, though I appreciate it does contain the name of Christ. If I had to pick a title I think I’d go with follower. First, Jesus seemed to be a pretty big fan of the term “follow.” He constantly called people to follow Him, and gave instructions as to what following should look like. Second, I feel like the term follower does a pretty good job of summing up our relationship with Christ. It emphasizes the fact that it’s not us who are in charge of our lives and eternities, but rather Christ who we follow. Over the next three weeks, I want us to spend some time looking at what it means to be a follower of Christ.
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. Matthew 9:9-13
Let’s unpack that. Matthew was sitting collecting taxes at what was likely the junction of a major port and a major highway. While I’ve seldom met a person who enjoyed paying taxes, taxes were particularly heinous in Jesus’ day. First, taxes went to the Roman Empire, which had come to occupy Israel by force. Second, the people collecting the taxes were pretty much scoundrels. While they were required to collect a minimum amount of taxes to send to Rome they often charged many times that amount, keeping the rest for themselves. They were quite literally making a fortune off of cheating their fellow Israelites, who subsequently lived in poverty. For this reason, tax collectors like Matthew were seen as the lowest of the low. Probably the only people today viewed as lowly would be those who sexually prey on children. That’s the “level” of sinner Matthew was.
Yet, look at Jesus’ treatment of Matthew. He takes one look at him and says “follow me.” He doesn’t judge him or mock him, but asks him to follow without a hint of hesitation.
Here’s the point I want us all to get: It doesn’t matter who you are, Jesus wants you to follow Him. Dwell on that for a moment. No test, no giant quest, no firey hoops to jump through. Just follow me. Don’t miss out on the invitation! It’s an invitation to live WITH Jesus now and for eternity. An invitation for a blessed life and a perfect eternity. I fear that far too often we feel that we are inadequate to follow Jesus. That we’re not righteous enough, intelligent enough, or experienced enough to serve Him as a follower, disciple, and leader. But when we look at this scripture it should become clear that such thinking is totally wrong. Jesus invites ALL OF US, regardless of our failings, to be His followers. Let’s not turn down His invitation.