Jesus did not instruct us to follow the Church. He instructed us to follow Him!
When we follow the Church, sometimes we can be let down, disappointed, hurt. One would think we shouldn’t feel that way, considering that the Church are God’s people. But wait, did you see that last word there, ‘people’, yeah, we are still people. Which means we are not perfect, still being susceptible to mistakes, pain, and let downs. Even I, the writer, the church, have hurt and let people down. This journey called life is a daily task of learning and growth. And during the process of learning and growing, not only do you make mistakes that hurt yourself, but you also make mistakes that hurt those around you. That’s why Jesus instructs Peter and tells him, “You follow Me!” (John 21:22). See, if you follow me and I fall, we both fall. But if we follow Him and I fall, you can help me because of the interdependency of our relationship because we are both solely dependent on God and not each other.
We, being the Church, are just as the 12 disciples that followed Jesus during His lifetime. Which means we, the church, are learners of Jesus, are learners of God. That’s what it means to be a disciple, to learn. The Church in its fullness, as a body of believer’s, is still learning. We have not yet come to the perfection, or the completeness that God is striving to bring us to. There is still much work that must be done in the body of Christ. But some will ask, “what work needs to be achieved? The Church is thriving!” But my question is, if the Church is thriving why are there people in the Church hurting and confused? Feeling unloved and rejected. Why do we have those that feel as though they must hide their identity, their authentic self, in order to be loved and accepted by a community that is taught and preaches to love all fully and unconditionally? Why do people feel more accepted by the world than by the Church? Look at that picture. Understand, there is always more work to be done. Rather than saying what work needs to be achieved? We, as the body, need to ask, “how we can we help the hurting souls of God’s children?” For we are all His children.
Well, there is a simple answer to the question above that Paul can give us the answer to. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ”. Why did the great apostle say this? Because Paul knew he was no one to be intimated, being subjected to imperfection and lack. But he knew the God inside of Him was worthy to be imitated! Perfect in every way, having no voids or incompleteness. Paul, the Church, is telling us to follow Jesus just as he did. Getting all knowledge, wisdom, and understanding from Him. How can we expect the world, or even other believers to follow/imitate us, the Church, if the Church is not imitating God? And even now, I can hear some getting offended and saying, “who is she to say we are not imitating God?”. Well, I am a part of “the body”, and an imitator of Christ. God is allowing me to feel some of the hurt within “the body”, to see the pain and confusion in the world. 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it”. Look at the Church, open your eyes and ears to the cries of His people, especially in the younger generations (this is just one of many). Then come back and ask yourself, “am I following Christ or am I following other hurt and confused people?” Self-examination.
God wants us to fellowship and help one another as a body. That’s by His design, interdependency. But He also wants ‘the body’ to have intimacy with Him. Seeking understanding from Him. Dependent on Him. Not leaning to our own understanding, but realizing our ways are not like His ways, and our thoughts are not as His thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). God has a plan and a promise for all His people, but we must be connected to Him in deep intimacy. So that His will can be brought forth in our lives, to be on display for the world to see, so that He Himself can draw. Instead of people running to the world, they will then run to the Church because the Church is imitating the Savior of the world.
If you listen to the world, it’s not seeking to be contained, to be boxed in, to hide in the darkness. No! The world is seeking to be free! And in that freedom to be loved, unconditionally. Where can they find that? In Christ. “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14).
The Church having deeper intimacy with Christ to understand His Word on the hot topics of today, will cause a shift. A move into a deeper level of Love and understanding. It will cause change! That change will draw more of His children to Him. More unity and peace.
Let the Church begin to follow Christ! Seeking Him in all things.