One night during our most recent tour of Israel, Ingleside Baptist Church pastor Tim McCoy told our group, “You know, I think I’ve learned something new about following Jesus on this tour.”
Immediately, the long-time pastor from Macon had our attention. Known for his ability to communicate clearly and simply, he reminded the group of how we’d been in a very crowded Jerusalem earlier in the day.
“I found that in a group this large, I can’t always see the leader of our group,” McCoy said. “When that happens, I simply find someone who’s following the leader, and I follow him.”
The next day, as we made our way through the Muslim Quarter in the middle of the day, I remembered the lesson my friend had offered. Not only could I not see the leader of our group … I could barely find any members of our group! But up ahead, Tim instinctively threw up his hand, knowing those behind him would need a focal point as we zig-zagged our way through the Damascus Gate.
Sure enough, we all made it out of the city gate and regrouped in a more spacious setting, no worse for the journey.
It sure had helped to know that someone ahead of me was following the leader!
When Paul wrote letters to his young churches across the Roman Empire, he wasn’t afraid to say something like this: “Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” (1 Corinthians 4:16) Paul wasn’t being arrogant or trying to draw attention to himself. He simply knew that those who were trying to follow Jesus could at that moment … only see Paul.
Maybe you’ll never tell your friends, co-workers, children or grandchildren to “imitate me.” But I promise you … they’re going to imitate someone. They’re going to follow someone who appears to know where he’s going, even if he’s headed for destruction.
If you want the people you love to follow Jesus, then by all means, you follow Jesus first. You will certainly have to spot someone ahead of you who is also following our leader. If you do this, many people who have you in sight will walk in the same path. This is the way our community of faith works.
So keep your eyes on Jesus today and keep your hand in the air. Someone behind you is counting on you!