Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (NRSV)
Luke 9: 57-62 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." (NRSV)
Jesus invites us to follow Him. But it is much easier to "believe" than to "follow." One can just sit back in a comfortable chair and believe all sorts of things: the Virgin birth, walking on water, feeding the 5,000, the Crucifixion and even the Resurrection. No problem! Just sit safely at home and meditate on the things of God.
But that isn't what Jesus means when he says, "Follow me." This requires action on our part. We have to get up and leave - maybe our comfort, perhaps our family, friends, job, and hobbies. Followers in the Bible left all those things behind. Following can be costly; it can even cause pain. Still, Jesus instructs us to follow.
But how do I know if I will like where he leads me. He has a reputation for hanging out with low-lives, such as lepers, prostitutes, thieves, and tax collectors. These people might hurt my reputation; or they could even be dangerous. Again, Jesus says, "Drop everything. Take up your cross and follow me.""
So I've followed when Jesus has called me out of my comfortable place - to play piano for my church, to get up and speak to a congregation, to help feed the homeless, to a career serving as a lay servant rather than nursing. And I've discovered that though the risks of acting on my faith are often high, so is the reward of trying to live as Jesus would have us to live.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, our Lord and our Salvation, give us strength and courage to follow you - wherever you lead us. Amen.