Do You Follow Jesus, or do you follow what everyone else is doing?
This is an important question, and the answer is the difference between being a Follower and being popular. People like to be popular, to be liked by others, to be part of the “in group”. If you read the New Testament how many stories can you recall where Jesus went along with the crowd so that He would be liked, be one of Herod and Caiaphas’ “in group”?
Do you follow His teachings, or do you try to fit in? It’s important to be liked, to belong to the “right” group at work, in church, at school, but is it more important than doing what is right?
Jesus gave only one commandment during His entire mission; He answered many questions about His Father’s Commandments, but He gave us only one to follow:
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.”John 15:10-13 (RSV)
Just who are we to love? He made that abundantly clear:
- I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
- You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus linked these two points in the Parable of the Good Samaritan where He points that out (paraphrased to our times): our neighbor is not necessarily a fellow Christian, but may be that Muslim down the street, the gay person you work with, the Goth who passes you on the street. Jesus’ point in the story of the Good Samaritan isn’t that your neighbor is someone who does something nice for you, but that it’s not necessarily the person that you expect it to be.
Do you hate the Hispanics crossing America’s southern border? Are you angry about the Afghan refugees being brought to America? Remember that everyone here, even those we call Native Americans, came from somewhere else, there are no humans who evolved on this continent. For the most part people came looking for hoping for something better or escaping some type of persecution: religious, racial, ethnic, economic. Sadly, Americans have a very poor history of welcoming strangers to our lands (contrary to the words of Lady Liberty), whether black, Irish, Oriental, or Eastern Europeans, we have not been very Christian towards them. Have you? Are you? Think about it, do you welcome strangers to our shores? If they meet you would they know you are a Christian, not by the cross on your neck, but by the love and fellowship you show them? Or would they just see you as another American.
I leave you with these words from Our Lord and Savior:
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:35 (RSV)
P.S.: I wrote this for/regarding America, but it hold true for whatever country you call home, be it Canada, Serbia, Ethiopia, etc. Would people know you are Christian by how you act towards your neighbors?