Do you remembered playing follow the leader? The rules are simple. A bunch of kids get in a line and do the same movements as the person at the front of the line. Sounds easy huh? Maybe not. Over my vast years of experience, I’ve discovered that leaders seem to fall into one of three categories. They either stand there dumb founded, unsure of what to do, or they begin to do the same moves the guy before them did or they start to charge around doing moves no one else in the line could possibly do. Following the leader is not as easy as it looks.
But picture playing follow the leader and Jesus is at the head of the line. Let’s say His first move is to love some little children. (Matt 18:5) You line up right behind Him and love a little child too. So far, following Jesus is pretty sweet. Next Jesus loves His neighbor as Himself. (Luke 10:27) This move is a little tougher but you’d like to love you neighbor more, so you give it a try. Then Jesus performs this next-to –impossible move, He loves His enemy(Matthew 5:44) AND suffers for doing good (1 Peter 2:20). Let’s face it. You do not want to love your enemy and you certainly don’t want to suffer. I know I don’t.
After all, those enemies Jesus is loving could be people that talk about you behind your back or people that have abandoned you. Enemies could be people who are jealous of your success and are joy-filled at your failures. Does Jesus really expect you to love these people?
If you are like me, you may be thinking Jesus is one of those leaders that charges around doing moves no one else could possibly do. Actually, Jesus does not expect us to make every move He made. We’re not expected to turn water into wine, and we’re not expected to raise people from the dead. But scripture does tell us to care for others the way Jesus did.
Caring for others is really the exact opposite message we are given by the world around us. Our culture fiercely promotes the idea that caring for yourself is more important than caring for others. This could be an attitude like “I’m looking out for number one” but more likely it’s a “I don’t want anyone to take advantage of me” attitude. The world wants you to believe that caring for others will make you “lose yourself” but Jesus shows us that giving of ourselves, even to the point of suffering, is part of finding yourself through Christ.
It’s Christ within us that empowers us to love children, neighbors and enemies even to the point of suffering. I cannot imagine giving of yourself on that level without Christ to lead you, restore you, and hold you through it all. As Christians, we’re definitely playing follow the leader. But we get the extra benefit of having the leader not only before us but within us as well. Hallelujah for that!