After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow Me,” Jesus said to him, 28and Levi got up, left everything and followed Him. (Luke 5:27-28, NIV)
In a time of uncertainty, when we we’re not sure quite what to do, it’s good to follow Jesus. When we wonder where our lives are headed and what they’ll be like when we get there, it’s good to follow Jesus. When you’re not quite sure what to think or how to live, here’s something you can hang onto: When at a loss for what to do, follow Jesus!
In our present crises, I want to invite you to ponder on what it means to follow Jesus in our world at this time of history. Following Jesus is not only timely but also timeless. No matter the context, no matter the challenge, no matter the confusion engulfing us, it’s always good to turn our attention back to Jesus. I don’t know what will be expected of me in the future. I don’t know the challenges I’ll face or the opportunities that will be presented to me. But I do know this: When in doubt, follow Jesus!
Of course, for us, following Jesus today isn’t exactly like what it was for people who encountered Jesus in the flesh. when Jesus approached Levi the tax collector and said to him, “Follow Me,” Levi “got up, left everything, and followed Him” (Luke 5:28). He literally went after Jesus, walking along as Jesus led. Later, Levi threw a great party for Jesus so that he might introduce Him to his friends and associates (Luke 5:29).
You and I don’t have the chance to follow Jesus in that way. So, what does it mean for us to follow Jesus today? There are several passages in the Gospel of Luke that show us something about Jesus and what it means for us to follow Him. Though we can’t actually walk behind Him, going wherever He goes, we can follow Jesus by heeding His call, listening to His teachings, believing and doing what He says, getting to know Him personally, learning His way of life, being formed in the image of His character, praying as He teaches us, and joining in His kingdom-centered mission. I think I just described the process of fellowship.
In the 1300’s, a man living in a small village in southern England offered a simple, heartfelt prayer: “Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits Thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults which Thou hast borne for me. O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly, day by day. Amen.” This prayer of St. Richard of Chichester has resonated in the hearts of Christians around the world, echoing throughout the centuries, and it is my prayer for you and me during this time. Indeed, in this particular time of history, with so many challenges and opportunities before us, may we know Jesus more clearly, love Him more dearly, and follow Him more nearly, day by day, even today!
Pause for a moment to take inventory of your daily life. Do you think of yourself as following Jesus in your everyday life? At work? In your community? With your family and friends? With your church? Do you know someone in today’s world who is following Jesus? If so, what are they doing?
Use St. Richard’s prayer as a way turning your mind and heart to Jesus. For the next several days, pray this prayer, either silently or out loud, a few times throughout your day.