Identity Found in God
The Shepherd and the Sheep
~ The Shepherd
~ The Sheep
~ The Voice of the Shepherd
~ The Art of Listening
~ The Lost Sheep
~ The Path
~ Living as His Sheep
Living as His Sheep
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Following Christ should be a sacred commitment we make daily. The word, “follow” intrigues me. The original word for follow in this verse is “akoloutheo” which means, “to be in the same way with - to accompany”, “to join one as a disciple”, “to follow one who proceeds”. This Greek word occurs over 90 times in the New Testament.
Let’s consider more about this word, “follow”. As humans, don’t we innately follow someone or something? Would you say that we can each pinpoint something and/or someone we follow? Something or someone we accompany? I have often heard the phrase, “following the crowd”. In fact, we caution our children not to just follow the crowd. The word follow can have a connotation feel to it. To follow may seem like you are just tagging along. Following maybe when you are not invited. Following blindly when you don’t even know all about who or what you’re following. Following hoping to become accepted. There is so much in this world to follow, to be in the same way with.
And then there are our selfish desires that we follow. Maybe we fall into following the American dream, and pride and greed get in the way. Maybe we find ourselves following our addictions and other sinful natures. There are so many self-satisfying things we can choose to follow. God’s word continually reminds us and challenges us to give these ways up. To deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him.
Over and over again Jesus invites us to follow Him. I read that the Greek word for follow goes deeper in these contexts. It comes from a root word that means, “assistant” or “accompany”. So as we read Jesus asking people to follow Him, He’s not just asking for tag-alongs. He’s asking people to come close, to be with Him. Maybe He’s even asking for their assistance. When He asks to follow Him, He’s inviting people to lean in and learn, and listen to Him explain about how to do the Father’s work. He’s reminding us that He’s here with us.
How do we live a life fully committed to being His sheep – to commit to live in His flock and follow the Shepherd? By denying ourselves – refusing to give or grant something we selfishly desire – daily. Dying to ourself and the worldly options. Surrendering and giving those up. Allow the Shepherd’s voice you are growing to know more and more to speak words of Truth and direction, giving you the desire and strength to follow Him – to lean in closely to Him and listen. You aren’t a dumb sheep. You are a priceless creation with capability and drive to be led and protected by the Good Shepherd who laid His life down for you.
Be all in as a follower of Jesus!
What or who are you following instead of following your Shepherd? What cultural crowds or selfish desires might God be asking you to step away from? Spend some time responding to God’s invitation to accompany Him, to lean in and learn from Him.