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Following Christ

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:” (1 Thessalonians 2:14)

In many church hymnals, there is a song with these words as its chorus.

“Follow! Follow! I would follow Jesus!

Anywhere, everywhere, I would follow on!

 Everywhere He leads me I would follow on!”

Early in Christ’s ministry, He approached some fishermen who were mending their nets. He told them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

Every person who accepts Christ as Savior is called to follow Him. Winning people to the Lord is about following Christ. We are called to share the gospel’s good news with all we meet. In doing so, those who hear and believe are also called to follow Him and do the same. Followers of Christ produce more followers. It is God’s method of multiplying and adding to His kingdom.

However, in our text this week, there is an added element. The Holy Spirit noted that these believers “became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are Christ Jesus.” In other words, the already established local churches in Judaea became living examples for these new believers. Local churches must produce more local churches. Furthermore, each local church must be an example to other local churches.

I often remind our people that local churches are comprised of people. Our church is not the building or even the property we meet on. As a local church, we are believers committed to following the Lord Jesus Church. Thus, we must be great examples to other believers and churches.

What is a follower? In the Greek text, the word “follower” means an imitator. A follower copies the words or behavior of another. Therefore, if we follow Christ, we are to imitate His words and behavior. Our text references the local churches of Judaea. Consequently, it stands to reason that local churches must be filled with people committed to imitating Christ.

The song I referenced at the beginning of this blog has these words for its third stanza.

“Down in the valley or upon the mountain steep,

Close beside my Savior would my soul ever keep.”

Following Christ is not an easy task. Christ, Himself, warned us concerning following Him.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Matthew 10:22

The local churches and believers of Judaea suffered much persecution at the hand of the Jews. Their valleys were long and deep. Yet, into those valleys, they went knowing that Christ was close to their side. They became beautiful examples to the local church of Thessalonica as they did.

We must never overlook the fact that people are watching our lives. How we handle persecution, opposition, and difficult circumstances speaks volumes to those observing us as Christ’s followers. We must be obedient to His Word, trusting His care as we go through such trials. There is no doubt that if you take a stand for Christ today, you will be mocked for it. The pressure from American society to conform to the world’s standards is immense. Yet, we must not give in. Instead, we must simply follow on! As we do, God promises His grace will be sufficient to help us through each challenging situation. Let’s determine to be the same kind of examples the Judea believers were to the Thessalonican believers. Let’s follow Jesus anywhere and everywhere, no matter what comes our way!