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What Does it Look Like to Follow Jesus?

  • Cliff Young Contributing Writer
  • Published Mar 25, 2014
What Does it Look Like to Follow Jesus?

I was in a church recently where I Have Decided to Follow Jesus was sung. It’s been quite a while since I’ve heard it since it seems to have been replaced in popularity by many newer, hipper and cooler praise and worship songs.  

Nevertheless, the timeless lyrics of this hymn still pertain, maybe more than ever in this changing world of ours.

I have decided to follow Jesus,
no turning back, no turning back.

Though no one join me, still I will follow,
no turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me,
no turning back, no turning back.

The last several months I have been struggling with my personal “relationship” with…Facebook and Twitter. I have accounts with both and try to stay somewhat current and up to date with what is going on with my friends and those I follow, but have been somewhat convicted by the whole “follow” thing, especially since hearing this song again.

When friends, speakers and educators want me to follow them, I usually do so out of respect, friendship or a desire to learn. In the same way, when I feel I have positive things to share, I’ll try to post for whomever to read and enjoy.

I have found times in my social media relationships where I have un-followed or de-friended an acquaintance because I didn’t want to continue hearing about their meals, animals, antics, opinions, or “farm” (or someone else’s they re-post).

Nowadays, it has become almost too commonplace for us to follow, un-follow, friend or de-friend people online (and even in person).

As recorded in the gospels, Jesus asked many to “Follow me,” some did immediately without hesitation and others felt there were things more important at the time.

“Matthew got up and followed him” (Matthew 9:9).

“At once they (Simon and Andrew) left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:18).

"When the young man heard this (sell your possessions and give to the poor), he went away sad, because he had great wealth" (Matthew 19:21-22).

"But the man replied, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' Still another said,'"I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family'" (Luke 9:59, 61).

I wonder how each of us would respond if Jesus appeared right now and asked us point blank to “Follow me.”

Would we immediately click “follow,” only later to un-follow, or maybe ask Jesus to follow us just until we were ready to follow him?

The last couple of months I have been sharing parts of the difficult season of life I have been in. Three of my family members have passed away over the past four months, my family has had several major home issues and I have been trying to find some stability after being somewhat homeless by my travels, all the while being single and feeling somewhat alone.

I can honestly and candidly say recently, I have been mad at God.

I have struggled with wanting to read the Word of God, I have not had an exuberant desire to praise his name and I have not wanted to worship much. However, all along this journey of mine, I have not denounced my faith, I never thought about walking away from the church and it never crossed my mind to un-follow him.

As a result, I have experienced some things I know could have only been God’s Will, in his timing, for my benefit and to bless me. I have received the love of many friends, help from (former) strangers, opportunities to serve ministries and to grow in my faith.

I have decided to follow Jesus – no turning back

If Jesus was just a Facebook or Twitter friend, I may have quit on him, but he’s not. When I decided to follow Jesus – I did it for life and with my life, no turning back.

Too often in our world we leave when the going gets tough, we quit because it’s easier, we want instant relief from our pain and we don’t want to try anymore, but in the long run, that makes us weak in our character, in our thinking and in our will.

For many singles, one of the most daunting tasks in the world is to do something alone, and each of us has our threshold of how far we choose to go – dinner in a restaurant, a movie out, a new activity, a class or maybe even a vacation.  

Though no one join me, still I will follow

As difficult as it is, there are many times we need to take a step out of our comfort zone, whether we have someone alongside us or not.

I have single friends who seemed to have un-followed God for a period of time, date “on the other side” (missionary-style), and planned to follow again (once they found their spouse). Sure it can work, but that is not the way the Lord ordered it.

He said to “Follow me,” period (Matthew 4:19), not follow me when you get married, not follow me when you have someone to do it with, not follow me when you get things in order, not follow me when you need to, and not follow me just for the good times.

The world behind me, the cross before me

Difficult choices usually mean going against what the majority is doing, otherwise they wouldn’t be difficult. Most every day my decisions seem to become clearer, it’s between what the world says and what the Bible says.  

A pastor’s recent message challenged me to “Follow me as I follow him.”  

Maybe that should be the question we ask ourselves before we ask out or accept a date, decide to invest time or money into something, or pursue a direction or not.

Is this person (or this something) encouraging me to follow him or follow them? Is it helping me to grow closer to God or pulling me farther away?

Follow me: two short words that divide a couple, a family, a nation and a world.  

The decision is actually pretty simple when you get down to it.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it (Matthew 7:14).

Follow him and find it.

Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to Find him on facebook and twitter.

Publication date: March 25, 2014