The word ‘Christian’ didn’t come into use until a long time after Jesus physically left our planet, so he didn’t say anything about being a Christian. But a Christian is someone who follows Jesus; and Jesus had a lot to say about what it means to follow him. Importantly he kept emphasizing that if we want to follow him, we must do so wholeheartedly and not allow ourselves to be concerned about other people or things.
There are many stories in the Gospels about people who were distracted from following Jesus by people or things in their lives that they felt were more important. One man was unhappy because Jesus told him to give up his wealth (Luke 18:18-23), others were concerned about family members (Luke 9:59-62).
At the end of John’s gospel Jesus is recorded as making a very important point about following him. He was talking to Peter and said, “follow me” (John 21:19). Peter immediately drew Jesus’ attention to one of the other disciples and said, “What about him?” Jesus responded by telling Peter that he was not to wonder about the other disciple. He said, “What is that to you? You, follow me.” (John 21:20-22). I believe that Jesus says this to every one of us, “You, follow me”.
We are not to look at our brothers and sisters and wonder about them. We are children of the same loving God and our loving God is a good parent. A good parent recognizes that every one of their children is different from the others and treats them differently. A good parent knows that each child has their own talents and interests and will grow up to lead a life that will be different from their sisters and brothers, so each will require their own forms of encouragement and experience.
Jesus tells us that we shouldn’t compare ourselves with our brothers and sisters. We should keep our focus on God, our loving parent who gives us the things we need to grow and mature and follow his will.
The writer of Hebrews puts it very well.
“let us put aside everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:1)
The writer says there are two things we should put aside; things that hinder us and sin:
- Things that hinder might include ambition, love of money, or anything that becomes so important to us that it distracts us from following Jesus.
- Sin is selfishness. Selfishness is sin. If we look at our brother or sister out of envy, or out of worry that they may be being treated better than us, or pride that we are doing better than them, then we are being selfish. We are sinning.
We must not compare ourselves with others, either favorably or unfavorably. Jesus is our example. We are called to follow him and him alone. A Christian is someone who follows Jesus, and Jesus commands us to follow him wholeheartedly without being distracted by anyone or anything else. This doesn’t sound easy; but the more we focus on Jesus’ teachings, reflect on them and pray that we will understand and obey them, the simpler it becomes.
May God bless you and keep you safe.
Jesus is Lord.