A couple of months ago my three year old son Mark (Jr) had to give an important ‘thank you’ to his babysitter. My wife Heather had to drop Mark off at a friend’s home for about 20 minutes everyday because of a job she took on as a nurse at the local Christian school. When summer hit, and school was out, my wife bought some flowers for Mark to hand deliver to his babysitter to thank her for taking care of him everyday for the past several months. Heather impressed upon Mark the importance of this particular ‘thank you.’ Mark wraps on the front door, the babysitter comes to the door with a smile. Mark reveals the flower on cue, and says from the gut, “Thank you so much… for dying on the cross for all my sins!” No other heretical statement has made me more proud!
The other day, Mark said another profound statement. It wasn’t heretical, but it did remind me of ways in which we function as disciples of Jesus. It’s not a good type of function. Mark is currently my shadow. He follows me wherever I go around the house. If I’m going downstairs, he’s right there with me. However, he doesn’t want to really follow me. He wants to lead the way. He wants to be with me, but in lead. So one day I’m making my way downstairs, and like clockwork, he’s right there trying to squeeze his way around me. He grabs for my legs and tries to push and shimmy his way in front of me. It’s actually a bit dangerous, but he’s persistent. I bend down to make sure he won’t fall down the stairs. But what he says as he’s trying to pass me is the clincher. As he’s trying to bi-pass me and lead the way, he’s crying out, “I want to follow you! I want to follow you!”
I immediately thought of the way in which many of us function as disciples of Jesus.
We proclaim with pomp and pizazz, “I want to follow you! I want to follow you!” But our actions often times do something very different. I think of Sunday’s “I want to follow you!” as we sing songs of humility and service. Then I think of Monday’s “I’m going to lead the way!”
It’s funny to watch my three-year-old pass me down a stairwell saying he wants to follow me.
It’s a tragic thing for our Father in Heaven watching his sons and daughters do this as we walk with Him into the depths of life.
As a follower of Christ, I am called to follow Jesus through word and deed. Keeping word and deed integrated in our faith journey as we follow Jesus is a long, daily, and difficult journey. But Christ is always there with his grace, ready to forgive us when we falter. His presence is in fact closer to us along this journey than I was to my son down that stairway. His grace and presence is still present when word/deed integration is absent, forgotten, or misdirected. That is a huge comfort as a Christ follower. As a pastor, there is a sense in which I am called to model that in ways that will inspire a flock. I feel the weight of that responsibility and calling. That’s why I am also comforted with the fact that a Jesus follower like the Apostle Peter was able to receive amazing grace after denying Jesus three times. Jesus still loved him, disintegration and all. As someone seeking to follow Jesus with all my heart everyday, that gives me great hope for this daily call to pick up my cross and follow my Saviour. To those who are reading this, strength along your journey of integrated faith.