Follow the Leader
Did you play the children’s game, Follow the Leader, as a child? The game where one child is placed in charge, as the “leader” of a line of children. It is a silly and fun game for children as each “leader” moves their body in some wild manner to get all of the other children to be just as silly. Yes, it is a fun game because eventually, everyone is able to play the part of the “leader.” I imagine that if the “leader” position did not change out periodically, most children would tire of the game quickly and perhaps revolt to go off and do their own thing.
We all like to be in control. Perhaps not in control of leading other people, but at least in control of what happens to us. Unfortunately, life is unpredictable and most often sits on the precipice of being out of control if it isn’t already tumbling down. So, to follow a leader in life takes a lot of trust and faith that the leader not only knows what they are doing but they are in control of the situation.
This is perhaps where the disciples find themselves with the resurrected Christ on the beach of the Sea of Galilee. They are excited to see and have their Lord and friend back in their lives. But now the time has come where they must decide if they are indeed going to continue to follow His leadership or go their own way. Peter declares his love for the Savior, but Christ has a job for him to do and so issues the command to Peter, “Follow Me.”
Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
John 21:19b (NLT)
The Choice is Yours – But the Commitment Should Be Firm
The disciples of Christ were at the crossroads of decision, they either followed their Savior or went back to the life they lead before they met Him. Of course, we know the end of the story as all but Judas, the betrayer, continued to follow Christ. It is clear that no matter what they faced their devotion held, as most died for their commitment of following Him.
The Gospel of John clearly informs the reader that he has written this book so that all may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that all who believe in Him will have life. (John 20:31) It is clear that we have a choice. We can follow Christ because we believe He is Jesus, the Son of God or we can go our own way.
There are a lot of hymns that over time have been written to declare one’s dedication to follow the Lord. But the path to follow Christ isn’t always easy and most of the time it might not be convenient. Too often we like to turn these hymns around for our own purposes. Maybe you have heard or even sung a few yourself, like; Where He Leads Me, I Will Consider Following, Let Me Have My Own Way Lord, or I Surrender Some. And even those of us who like to call ourselves true followers often struggle with sharing the “Good News” with others and so we like to sing, I Love to Talk about Telling the Story. But what it really all boils down to is that we want to be our own leader, the one in charge and in control because too often we sing, I Love Me.
I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
Many years ago, there was a hymn that I remember singing during church worship called; I Have Decided to Follow Jesus. I must admit that as a child I didn’t really like this hymn. There isn’t a valid reason, but I guess it was too slow and there were others that I liked better. But I have come to realize that one of the reasons that I didn’t like it was because I didn’t truly understand it. No one has ever challenged my life over my faith or the right to believe as I desire. But furthermore, I also didn’t know the story behind the poem, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.
I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, is a song based on the last words of Nokseng, a man from the Garo tribe of Assam, India well over a hundred years ago. At the time there was a great revival that resulted in many missionaries coming to the north-east part of India to spread the Gospel. The region known as Assam held hundreds of tribes that were both primitive and very aggressive head hunters.
The missionaries came spreading the love, peace, and hope of Jesus. They were not welcomed, but after some time, one missionary succeeded in converting a man, his wife, and their two children. This man’s faith was so contagious that many of the villagers began to accept Christianity as their faith too.
No Turning Back
This angered the village chief, who summoned all the villagers and then called the family who had first converted to Christianity to renounce their faith publicly or face death. The converted man was so moved by the Holy Spirit that he instantly composed a song that became famous throughout the years. He sang, “I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.”
The chief was so enraged at the refusal of the man, he ordered the children to be killed. As the children lay dying, the chief, asked, “Will you deny your faith, now? You have lost both your children and your wife is next.” But the man replied, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow. Though no one joins me, still I will follow. Though no one joins me, still I will follow. No turning back, no turning back.”
The chief boiled with fury and ordered the man’s wife to be killed. She quickly joined her children in death. Then the chief asked the man for the last time, “I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live.” But in the face of death, the man replied, “The cross before me, the world behind me. The cross before me, the world behind me. The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back, no turning back.” The man was killed like the rest of his family, but it is with this final death, a miracle took place.
Seeing the Solid Foundation of Miraculous Faith
The chief who ordered the killings of the entire family became so moved by the faith of the man that he began to wonder. He questioned, “Why would this man, his wife, and two children die for a Man who lived in a far-away land on another continent some 2000 years ago? The chief thought that there must be some remarkable power behind the family’s faith, and he too wanted part of that faith. In a sudden declaration, he said, “I, too, belong to Jesus Christ!” When the villagers heard this, they all accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.
The man in the story, like the disciples made the choice that despite what the future holds they would follow Jesus. It is easy to be afraid when we are unsure of the future, but if we make the choice to believe that Christ is the Son of God then we know that God is in control. We know that no matter what happens in life that God promises to make good of it for those who love Him and believe. (Romans8:28) This is what backs our faith so we can confidently follow Jesus.
Follow Christ – No Matter What
Sometimes it is difficult to understand the fairness or unfairness of life, but Christ clearly tells us not to compare our life to others and let God handle it all as He sees fit. Faith is like a muscle that must be consistently worked and stretched and so we must continue to remind and review the basics of our faith so that when life hits hard we have a place to fall that is safe. It is a message that is simple in speech, but heavy in action. However, no matter the circumstances we may find ourselves in, we should always move forward in the footsteps of Christ. For even in the most out of control day of our life, God still remains in full control.
Won’t you challenge yourself to continue to follow Christ, even when the world treats you unjustly? Hold tightly to your convictions that Christ is indeed the Son of God and will make good on all His promises as He has always proven. Find your motivation knowing that God is always in control and comfort that He loves you so much that He has prepared a place for you if you choose to follow Him.
Decide and commit to follow Jesus today and not turn back.
Love in Christ,
Following Christ is a Daily Thing, Not Just A One-Time Thing
What are Your Thoughts?
Do you ever found yourself only following Christ when it works into your schedule? Have you fully considered the statements presented in the gospels that clearly and systematically presents the evidence for the claims of Christ? Share your thoughts on following Jesus with no turning back.
Job, P. D. (2007). I Have Decided to Follow Jesus. Retrieved from Hymnary: https://hymnary.org/text/i_have_decided_to_follow_jesus