Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 8, 2020
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
I was in my early twenties when an important friendship of mine was severed because of my relationship with Christ. Ashley was a good friend, a wonderful young woman I had known since I was in my teens. We had been like two peas in a pod, but when I accepted Christ, things changed. She let me know she was offended by my faith and how I talked about Jesus—and she also told me that others in her circle were offended too. Her words stung. I felt emotionally unsafe. I felt I could no longer be myself with Ashley because who I was had changed.
But I couldn’t have gone any other way. I just had to follow Him. He was my only hope during a time when my internal world was a mess and I desperately needed help. This story reminds me there are times in life when we can’t follow our friends, family members, neighbors, or co-workers and still follow Jesus. Sometimes this can be extremely difficult if we lose precious relationships or gain others’ disapproval.
A great example of this is in Luke 2:41-50. Jesus was just 12 years old and he was with his parents for the Feast of the Passover. After the feast, Mary and Joseph headed toward home; they didn’t know Jesus had stayed behind. They thought he was following with friends and relatives, but after traveling for a day they realized he was missing. So, they went back to Jerusalem. After searching for three long days—much to their disapproval—they found him sitting in the temple, listening to the teachers and asking them questions.
Others who listened were amazed by his understanding and his answers. His parents were amazed too—but not by his wisdom. Instead, they were astonished by his mistreatment of them. His mom asked, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Just as I couldn’t follow my friend, please her and reject Jesus, Jesus couldn’t follow His parents’ way of life and reject His heavenly Father.
If Christ pleased his heavenly Father, he would not please his parents. And, if he pleased his parents, he would not please his Father. Sometimes the gifts God has given us, the faith we adopt, and the calling on our lives, creates a division between us and others. And, if we follow our heavenly Father, it may mean we won’t be able to follow others and sometimes those “others” will be those closest to us, such as our friends—as it was in my case. Or, our family—as it was with Jesus. Following Christ may mean we sometimes let others down. They may even feel threatened by our new faith.
To move confidently through this time when others disapprove without shrinking back from following Christ, we must remind ourselves that we do not need the approval of others. To experience contentment, joy, and peace, we do not need anything or anyone outside of ourselves to validate us. We simply need to know that we are being held by a Love that will never let us go as we follow a Father who will never lead us astray. Our identity must be in Him, and in Him alone.
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
Lord, following you sometimes means that others will not approve of me or my choices. Please help me not to take offense; help me to pray for them, and give me the courage to continue to follow you. Amen.
Pray for anyone in your life who has rejected you because of your faith, or who has disapproved of you because you don’t want to follow their way of life.
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