A Monthly Message from our Minister, the Rev Dr Neil Dougall - March 2020
Who do you follow?
Rosie follows Oprah Winfrey on twitter. Adam follows FC Barcelona. Maxine follows a colleague through a maze of corridors in a strange building. Tony follows a new recipe to make sure his dish turns out well. Following is part of life. Choosing the right people to follow helps us navigate life’s ups and downs. Paying attention to them enriches our lives and helps us avoid pitfalls.
Among the first recorded words of Jesus are those to Peter and Andrew, ‘Come follow me’ (Mark 1:16 ). Is that a command or an invitation?
Among the last recorded words of Jesus are those to Peter, ‘You must follow me’ (John 21:22 ). Again, is this an instruction or a request?
‘Follow me’. Just two words. At one level so simple. Everyone can understand them. We picture Peter and Andrew leaving their boats and their nets. As Jesus continues along the shore of Lake Galilee they follow him. In our own way we hear the summons of Jesus, ‘Follow me’. We understand that like Peter and Andrew we are being invited to go with Jesus where ever he leads us.
‘Follow me’. Just two words. At another level so complex. These two words ‘carry within them the complex and comprehensive processes of being God’s people, in God’s world’ (Church Without Walls Report). Jesus calls each of us to be his disciples, to follow him as we live our daily life. Individually and together we try to work out what this means in practice.
What does it mean for me to follow Jesus as part of my family and among my friends? What does it mean to follow Jesus when I’m at school, or at work, or active in the community? What does it mean to follow Jesus when I am confined to the house and restricted in what can I do?
What does it mean for us, as a community of God’s people, to follow Jesus? What is that God wants us to be and do? How do we help and encourage one another to be disciples not just at the beginning, but also towards the end?
Colin Sinclair, this year’s Moderator, suggests that the words ‘Follow me’ mean:
• Following Jesus into the heart of God the Father in worship and prayer
• Following him to the ends of the earth in mission
• Following him to new places of self-worth as children of God and new depths of honesty as we face our recurring sins and passions
• Following him into situations and relationships where we are out of our depth, whether that be walking on water or learning to love our enemies.
If Rosie is a Christian she is a follower of Jesus. So she will make sure that Jesus’ words have more influence on her thinking and living than everyone she follows on twitter.
If Adam is a Christian he is a follower of Jesus. So he will make sure that, while enjoying his football, Jesus is his greatest passion.
If Maxine is a Christian she is a follower of Jesus. So she will make sure that she keeps her eyes on Jesus as she navigates the dilemmas of daily life.
If Tony is a Christian he is a follower of Jesus. So he will play close attention to what Jesus says believing that this will help him live well.
Individually and together we follow Jesus. Each day we pay attention to him. We aim to do as he does. Every day is a new day, so being a follower is never the same two days in a row. We fix our eyes on Jesus so that we can be as he is. Following Jesus is always fresh. Each day we ask for his help that we might follow faithfully.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2 ).
To see other messages from Neil, click on the appropriate month in the table below.
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