What Does it Mean to Follow Jesus?

by Alvera Mickelsen | November 19, 2008
image

Most people who read this column are committed to the Bible as the standard by which choices and decisions are made. This belief is held by CBE. However, this does not mean that every verse in the Bible carries the same weight. Some teachings of the Old Testament are not relevant to us today. For example, Leviticus 19:19 says, “You shall not put on a garment made of two different materials.” We would not be able to dress today if we held that as an eternal command! Some commands of the New Testament we also ignore such as I Thessalonians 5:26 which says, “Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss.” This obviously had to do with the cultural customs of the day. Our customs are different.

Many similar examples could be given. But most of the commands of Jesus, our Lord, are clearly meant to guide our lives and activities and we must see those as “highest standards for our lives.” In fact, Jesus labeled them as such. “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you; for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12, emphasis added). Or “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:37-40, emphasis added).

As followers of Jesus, these commandments are absolutely basic for us. Can male followers of Jesus say that they would like to be forbidden to use their God-given gifts of leadership in any situation that includes the opposite sex? If not, how can they deny such opportunities to women and still say they are following Jesus? Can any other passage in the Bible carry more weight than these words of our Lord? The same principle can be applied to our relations regarding race or other minorities.

Jesus has called us to follow him. That is often difficult and sometimes contrary to our religious or ethnic cultures. But it is what Jesus has called us to do.