August 20, 2018

Followers of Christ

By Robert C. Archer

There are millions of people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. But as all people vary, followers of Christ also vary in their allegiance to Christ and this variance is not always good. In this article we shall try to describe some of the followers of Christ. Which one describes you?

The "Afar-off" Follower

There are some who follow Jesus afar-off. They are like the apostle Peter who when Christ was led away to be crucified was very careful not to follow Jesus too closely. Peter in this afar-off position from Jesus and other disciples was led into sin. You remember that he denied our Lord three times (Matt. 26:58, 69-75). If we follow Jesus afar-off as Peter, will we do any better? Followers in this afar-off condition need to really get involved in the work for the Master. They need to worship at every opportunity and to really get "close" to our Lord, or as James puts it: "draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (James 2:8).

The Worldly Follower

Many followers are like Demas who forsook Paul "having loved this present world" (2 Tim. 4:10). Some fall away completely; however, others continue their pretext of serving God while their heart is implanted in the world. I'm afraid that the worldly follower is fooling himself because Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other" (Matt. 6:24). The worldly follower needs to follow John's advice: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the father is not in him" (I John 2:15). Let us turn our attention away from riches, pleasures, etc. of the world and back to Christ.

The Complaining Follower

I'm afraid that there are too many followers who belong in this category. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with constructive criticism, but the majority of the criticism is not constructive but destructive. Some love to tear down, but never to build up. For example, many followers criticize other followers, usually behind their back, but seldom do they ever try to help them correct their lives. They complain that the church isn't growing fast enough, but seldom do they ever try to teach the Gospel to their friends and loved ones for they are too busy complaining. They complain about the church building, but seldom do they help when other followers gather together to improve the building. They complain that there are too many hypocrites in the church, but don't realize that this is what they have become. Complaining followers need to repent of this wickedness and to try to improve or eliminate whatever they have been complaining about and once again find the peace, joy and happiness that is inherent in Christianity.

The Big-wheel Followers

Many followers are like "Diotrephes who loved to have the preeminence" (3 John 9). They will attend [not worship] if they are treated like royalty. They will work if they are "in charge" and can make all the decisions. All things must revolve around them if they are to be kept satisfied. The "big-wheel" followers need to remember the teaching of Jesus when he said, "whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:26, 27).

The Fearful Follower

The work of God is hindered by the fearful follower whose fear is usually caused by the lack of faith. (Matt. 17:14-21). For example, they are afraid to undertake a building program, or support a gospel preacher because "we aren't able financially" or the "bottom might fall out and we won't be able to afford it." It seems strange that these followers have enough faith to buy a home, car, and color television on credit, but when it comes to the work of God - we can't afford it! And then there are others who would become followers, but they are afraid that they won't be able to live as God would have them to. The fearful followers need to increase their faith and to realize that with God's help we can accomplish anything. Because "if God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31).

The Fussy Follower

Some followers just cannot "get along" with other followers. If someone doesn't speak, or shake their hand, they are offended. Some have even "quit the church" because of a petty grievance against another follower without even giving the offender the opportunity to correct it. I'm forced to wonder sometimes if these people aren't looking for a good excuse to quit. The fussy follower needs to remember that he is serving Christ, not the brethren, and to remember that our Lord was humiliated, rejected and crucified that we might be saved. We ought to be ashamed to be a fussy follower when our Lord suffered so much for us.

The Faithful Follower

The apostle Paul is an excellent example of the faithful follower. Although he was "beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked," cast into prison and though he suffered at the hands of his own countrymen and false brethren, he did not allow these things to destroy his faith, but to strengthen his faith (2 Cor. 11:23-28). When his death was close at hand he could say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:7, 8). Are we willing to suffer if need be and to live faithfully unto death as did Paul and be a faithful follower?

Finally, what kind of a follower are you? Let us heed God's commandment "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong" (I Cor. 16:13). Let us become faithful followers.

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XII: 11, p. 12
August 1968

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