Nouns and Verbs
In recent history, many Christians have adopted the moniker Christ Follower in an effort to distinguish their relationship with Jesus, emphasizing their personal submission to Jesus’ loving authority. This desire for distinction is rooted in Gospel ministry by those who want to overcome cultural barriers that have been erected because of prevalent hypocrisy in the lives of some calling themselves Christian. The helpfulness of, and necessity for the distinction have been topics of discussion. But that is not what I am interested in today.
What I’m interested in, whether Christian or Christ Follower, is the verb tense of the title. What does it mean to actively follow Jesus?
Jesus taught that following Him is directly related of hearing Him. He made this simple when He said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 ESV). To follow Jesus we must also hear Jesus.
We see people hearing from God throughout scripture. He spoke to the shepherd Moses while he worked in the wilderness (Exodus 3). He called out to the boy Samuel as he lay in bed (1 Samuel 3:4-14). The Father was present at Jesus’ baptism with a voice of affirmation (Matthew 3:16-17). Jesus confronted the murderer Saul while he was walking down the highway of his time (Acts 9).
We know God spoke to them, but how can we hear from Him today? We find some help in the opening statement of Hebrews:
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV).
He has spoken to us by His Son. The best way to assure we are hearing from God is by examining the life and words of His Son as recorded in the Bible. This is why we love the Bible and spend time with it regularly. It is a factual, historical account of how God has spoken to us in these last days through the life, death, burial and resurrection of His Son.
Along with the gift of the Bible, God has sent a helper, His Holy Spirit, to remind us of everything Jesus said (John 14:16-26) . In addition to affirming that we are hearing Him, the Spirit also reminds us that we know Him (Romans 8:15) and empowers us to follow Him (Acts 1:8, Galatians 5:25, 2 Corinthians 3:3).
Even in a brief examination of a few passages from God’s word, we quickly begin to see that hearing, knowing and following Jesus requires both the Word and the Spirit working in tandem. We also recognize that hearing, knowing and following are all parts of living in relationship with Jesus.
From time to time we need to evaluate the health of our relationship with Jesus. As a tool, we can ask ourselves these simple questions rooted in John 10:24:
- Do I hear him? Am I an active Christ listener?
- Do I know him? Am I a factual Christ acknowledger?
- Do I follow him? Am I an obedient Christ follower?
Daniel Ott, Web Developer