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"Follow me" is the motto of the U.S. Army infantry!
I spent a major part of my military career at Ft. Benning, Ga., which is the home of the U.S. Army Infantry Training Center.
In front of the headquarters building stands a statue of a soldier that depicts a young lieutenant from the Korean War. He is shown as he jumped from a trench to lead soldiers on an assault of the enemy, raising his hand and shouting, “Follow me!”
The success of an army rests in its leaders. Those who lead must be able to inspire confidence and trust in those who would follow them into battle. At the command, “Follow me,” soldiers must unhesitatingly – without question – follow that leader. They must be willing to leave an area of relative comfort and safety to attack the enemy.
Every Sunday, ministers preach the same basic message from their pulpits. We present the “good news” of the Gospel of Christ – salvation is offered to all through him – and invite all who hear the message to "Come, follow Jesus!”
In doing so, we are following the example set by the Savior. The invitation by Jesus to those who would become his disciples was simply “Come, follow me!” In the calling of Peter and his brother, Andrew, Jesus said in Matthew 4:19, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
The command, “Come, follow” comes from two Greek words: DEUTE (come, come now) and OPISO (behind, after). Later, Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 16:24, “…if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” That still holds true today. If you want to “come after” Jesus, you must deny self – take up your cross and FOLLOW him!
According to some polls, almost 80 percent of Americans people claim to be “Christian.” However, the actions of most Americans do not show that they are following Jesus. There are many who “come” to Jesus every Sunday…but they forget, or didn’t hear, the last part of the invitation to “follow” him. In the Scripture, we have an example of one who “came” to Jesus but chose not to “follow” Jesus.
In Matthew 19:16-24, we are told, “Now, a man came up to Jesus and asked, 'Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?'
"'Why do you ask me about what is good?' Jesus replied. 'There is only one who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.'
"'Which ones?' the man inquired.
"Jesus replied, ''Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother," and "love your neighbor as yourself.'
"'All these I have kept,' the young man said. 'What do I still lack?'
"Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'
"When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'"
This man did “good.” He felt he was doing everything God required of him to gain eternal life. “What do I still lack?” he asked Jesus. Jesus, who knows what is hidden in the heart, knew what would interfere with this man’s ability to “follow” him. He knew what would take the man's focus off the Savior – told him to get rid of everything that he knew the man cherished more than following the Savior.
Today, many “come” to church every Sunday – they “come” to church every day the door is open. They “come” and sit in a pew. But upon leaving the building, they do not “follow” Jesus! At the Day of Judgment, we are told in Matthew 25:31-45, Jesus is going to say to those who “followed” Him, “…Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world...”
However, to those who did not follow him, he is going to say, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Are you “following” Jesus? If you have been a Christian for years but have never told anyone the “good news” or even invited one single soul to church, then you need to ask this question yourself: “Am I truly following Jesus?”
Do your actions and speech, Monday through Saturday, show that you are “following” the Savior?
The invitation from Jesus is the same every day, not just Sunday – “Come, follow me!”