What does it mean to follow Jesus?
How can you follow someone you do not know?
How do you know Jesus?
We all know what it means to know someone, to be in relationship with others. We know what it means to have a close friend. We know what it means to have a family. But, we tend to drop everything we know when it comes to knowing God. We tend to think that reading a book or attending a building once a week is equivalent to knowing God. But it’s not.
Knowing God is not any different than knowing any other person.
Because God is pure Spirit, how we know God may be different. But knowing God is not.
As Jesus stated in John 10 concerning himself as the Good Shepherd, “the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out,” and “they follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:3-4 NLT). Is Jesus being poetic here, or does he really believe we can follow the very sound and leading of his voice?
If Jesus has a voice, what does it sound like, and how do we hear it?
Jesus makes it clear how we hear him.
As Jesus told the Apostles a few chapters later in John, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth,” and “you know him, because he lives with you now” (John 14:16-17 NLT).
We hear Jesus by the Spirit God the Father has placed within us.
So, how do we hear and know the Spirit?
The answer is not the Bible.
The Bible can no more teach us how to know Christ through the Spirit, than you can know any other person through reading a book. You get to know a person by contact with that person. But when we start out as Christians, we don’t know how to get to know Jesus through the Spirit. Before coming to know the Spirit, we have to begin to learn how to recognize the movement of Spirit in our lives.
So, how do we learn?
Scripture provides some good context and instruction in this, but what scriptures teaches is that we need people who already know how to hear and follow Jesus through the Spirit to teach us. This is what Jesus called discipleship.
Jesus intended His life to be passed on from those who knew Him to those who don’t. You can’t learn how to be in relationship with Jesus through anything but relationship. Relationship is learned relationally.
To know Jesus, you have to know how to hear and follow the Spirit. To learn how to hear and follow the Spirit you have to learn from someone who already knows. The question is, do you know anyone who knows the Spirit?
If not, then you have no practical ability to follow Jesus the way He intends.
There is no substitute for following Jesus.
If we’re not following Jesus, then we’re gonna follow someone else.
You’re gonna serve someone, as the saying goes.
When no one in our churches knows how to know and follow Jesus through the Spirit, we end up following a system of human authority and truth. Then we become Christians following Christians, instead of Christians following Christ.
The hard truth is that hearing and following Jesus is a lost art in the Church today.
The Church today is failing to make followers of Jesus, because it does not have many follows of Jesus.
When we don’t know how to follow Jesus, what we end up following is human born religion.
Jesus came to deliver us from the oppressive prison of the very religion we have fallen back into, a religion of good rules and rituals that is just as much a burden now as it was when Jesus was here.
We need once again for Jesus to save us.
We need Jesus to save us from the Christian Religion.
The only way we can do that is by learning how to know and follow Jesus again.
That’s why the Church is keeping people from following Jesus, instead of teaching people to follow Jesus.
That’s why we need to humble ourselves, put aside our petty religion, get on our knees and begin to seek the face of God again.
We need to pray, and pray fervently that God would restore His Church again, by restoring and returning to us a true following of Jesus.