Have you ever been a fan of someone? Maybe a celebrity, a sports team, a superstar!!
Currently my 10 year old daughter is a big fan of Little Mix (they are (apparently) the biggest girl band out there at the moment!) I am constantly subjected to their music coming from her bedroom, as she sings into her hairbrush pretending that she is one of the band! For her birthday we managed to get tickets for her to go and see them in concert at the Liverpool Echo Arena, I don’t know whose more excited, my daughter or my wife!!!
For me, I have two people who I look to as superstars (you could say I’m a fan). One is the legend Kenny Dalglish- I grew up in household that was besotted by LFC and King Kenny was the main man! I remember as a young lad going to watch the mighty reds and seeing Kenny at his brilliant best!! I remember my Dad saying no-one will compare to him. Whilst I have to agree, I do think Steven Gerrard went on to do that in my opinion.
The other is again no surprise, as many of you know I love motorbikes and Valentino Rossi (9 times GP world champion) sums up everything for me that is great about Motorcycle racing. He’s younger than me but has achieved so much in his sport that leaves most other competitors in his wake and dreaming that they can achieve a quarter of what he’s done! His ability and technique on a motorcycle leaves you speechless!
Some people take following their heroes very seriously, they will attend every race, every match, every concert. Just to be near, just to see them, just to be able to say they were there. They buy the merchandise and the clothing, they don the posters on the bedroom walls, they even get their hair cut to mirror their heroes.
In biblical times, people had heroes they followed, yes some were sporting, some were not. The idea of following is nothing new. In John Chapter 1, Jesus says to Philip, ‘Follow me’. In fact, he goes on to use the word ‘follow’ numerous times. His use of this word links directly to the idea of being his disciples. You see a disciple was a student who followed his Rabbi. He learnt from him, he studied his every move and through the process of spending such in depth time in his presence, the student (or disciple) began to become like his Rabbi. They followed.
Jesus calls us to ‘follow him’. He calls us to spend so much time in his presence that we begin to reflect him in our thoughts and in our actions. To copy his ways, to learn from his teachings and to put the things we see Jesus doing into practice in our own lives. This is true discipleship. It’s no surprise that the word discipline in so close, in fact they share the same root word. The concept is that we surrender ourselves to something or someone. In this case surrendering ourselves to follow Jesus’ teachings, this requires huge commitment and discipline. No-one said that becoming a disciple of Jesus would be easy, in fact Jesus himself said in Matthew 16, that whoever would follow should take up their cross daily. The idea here is one of daily sacrifice and self-denial.
Over the next few weeks in our new teaching series ‘Becoming Disciples’, we will be exploring Matthews gospel as we seek to follow Jesus’ command to ‘Follow Him’. Maybe God is calling us all to take our faith more seriously and journey deeper with Him. Maybe it’s time to be more like those who follow their favourite celebrities and be proud to be followers/disciples of Christ – and dare I say it, even introduce others to Him!!