Follow the Leader was one of my favorite games when I was a kid. It usually was not all that difficult … right turn, left turn, around the tree. Most of us had the same moves when it was our turn to lead. I think we all played it for the thrill of being the leader with everyone lined up behind us. That was power.
But every once in awhile we got the drill sergeant leader kid. He’d run, crawl under things on his belly and make us sweat. It cost to follow him.
Some kids would start whining and complaining that it was too tough. Kids dropped off one by one. Some would demand a new leader. But a few of us really got into it. We preferred the challenge instead of the same old predictable path.
Have you ever read the Bible looking at Jesus as a leader? He never downplayed the cost or difficulty of following Him. He made a clear call, spelled out the rewards and then forged a path inviting people to follow Him. It was an all or nothing proposition.
I think His challenge is so intriguing because most of us realize that the “all” we live for now actually amounts to “nothing” in terms of things that last. We have a sense that we’re missing something. We’re following the kid in front of us knowing we are not really headed anywhere meaningful.
In Matthew 4 Jesus says, “Come, follow me” to some fishermen. Their response is immediate. They drop everything and go. All they know is that He tells them He will make them “fishers of men.” But what does that mean?
I think it means He’s going to give them a new purpose. A fisher of men is a person who impacts others. I think it means He is going to replace what they thought was so important with what He knows is vital. He is going to make them mirror Him. They are going to become rescuers, people who bring hope and guys who have Good News of a new reality. They are going to bring people in to new life in Christ.
As a leader, that is Jesus’ path and what He is all about. He’s about taking the condemned and rebuilding them. He is about taking the lost and showing them the path. He is about giving hope to the hopeless and life to the lifeless. He is about paying their debt and bringing them into the realtionship with God that they were created to live. He is forgiveness for the unforgivable. Jesus walked that path with resolute determination and invites us to follow.
I think we’ve lost sight of that path in the American church. We sit, we stand, we turn left, we turn right and we go through the motions. By sitting in class after class talking about reaching out, loving others and following Jesus with everything, we have convinced ourselves that we are actually walking the path. But in reality, we rarely toss a net beyond the church parking lot. Our lines hardly ever hit the water where the fish live.
I think it’s time for a good round of Follow the Leader. The path is a lot less comfortable than our padded pews but it is the path Jesus calls us to. It’s a tough path to follow but it is worth walking.