“As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me and be my disciple,’ Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him.” – Mark 2:14 (NLT)
We have a quotient for nearly everything. We have IQ (Intelligence Quotient); EQ (Emotional Quotient); LQ (Love Quotient) and manifold others. While it is good to gauge intelligence, emotional awareness and other areas of our life, I believe God is more concerned about our FQ (Following Quotient).
Most of us probably know about the time Jesus saw Peter and Andrew fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19 NASB) We may even know the scripture, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 NLT) But, have you ever measured your FQ?
Let’s look at four kinds of followers mentioned in scripture. The first is what I call the Joiner. Joiners see something interesting happening and want to be a part. They “look before they leap.” Unfortunately, they often do not really know what they are getting in to so they don’t last very long. The Joiner is illustrated in scripture by the man who told Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” He probably expected Jesus to be excited at the prospect of a new recruit. Instead Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” (Luke 9:57-58 NLT) In other words Jesus was saying, “It’s not enough to think you want to follow me, you need to have an idea of what it means to really follow me. A few chapters later (14) He warned a large crowd that following Him meant taking up their personal cross. He told them to first “count the cost.”
The second follower is the Negotiator. The Negotiator wants to hang with Jesus, but they want to do it on their own terms. They want Jesus to be part of their life, but they don’t want to do things His way. The Negotiator shows up in Luke 9:59-62, when two different people say they will follow Christ but have other things they need to do first. Interestingly, they both wanted to do things that would normally be considered good. The first wanted to bury his Father and the second wanted to say goodbye to his family. Jesus let them know that following Him and living Kingdom lives was more important than either of these (or anything else.) As the great Theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Discipleship can tolerate no conditions.”
The third type of follower is the Score Keeper. The Rich Young ruler came to Jesus and asked what was necessary to inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19) Jesus knew the man’s heart and positioned him for the biggest revelation of his life. At first, Jesus told the man to keep the commandments. The man asked which ones. Jesus began to recite commandments about murder, adultery, stealing, lying and so forth. I can almost feel the pride in the air as the ruler listens and mentally checks each one off as a personal milestone. Still, the man intuitively knows that something is still missing, so he asks Jesus what it is. After the perfect setup, Jesus told the man to get rid of everything he had accomplished on his own and adopt the role of follower/disciple. The man was sad because his score card didn’t mean anything after all. Unfortunately, he was still unwilling to give it all up.
The fourth type of follower is the Disciple. This is the type that Jesus told the Apostles to make in Matthew 28:19. In our scripture verse today, we see this type of follower personified. When Jesus told Levi, “Follow me and be my disciple,” the Bible says, “Levi got up and followed him.” How much more simple can it get? We hear, and we obey. Although simple in concept, it is often extremely difficult in the execution. We must die to ourselves to live in Him. In the timeless words of Bonhoeffer, “The command of Jesus is hard, unutterably hard, for those who try to resist. But for those who willingly submit, the yoke is easy, and the burden is light.”
Father God, help us not to be Joiners, Negotiators or Score Keepers. Help us to be true and unwavering disciples of Your Son Jesus. When and where He says follow, help us to get up and follow. Bless Your children today with Your presence. In Jesus Name, AMEN!