“Follow me.” Two very simple words. Two words that hold the potential to change your life. I say “the potential” because being directed to follow someone doesn’t mean that you will make the choice to actually follow someone. All that is being presented is an opportunity. The power still rests in your free will to decide to follow, or not.
Understanding this, let’s take a look at two scenarios. First, let’s pretend that these are the words of your friend. You are lost and your friend believes that they know the way. So, they invite you to follow them.
Second, let’s pretend that you hear these exact same words, in the exact same situation. But this time, as opposed to it being your friend, these words are coming out of the mouth of a complete stranger. In which scenario are you more likely to actually make the choice to follow? In both scenarios, is it possible that the complete stranger as well as your friend know the way?
Stranger or friend doesn’t matter when it comes to knowing the way. Yet, aren’t you more likely to follow your friend, as opposed to a complete stranger? Thus, going your own way when it comes to the scenario where the stranger is directing you to follow? If so, what’s the difference?
With all of this in mind, let’s look at the story of Levi from the gospel of Mark. Levi was lost, for he was a tax collector. This meant that he was a thief and served at the bidding of the Roman Empire. He would have been financially successful. But he would have also been ostracized from his community, because of his profession.
Jesus saw Levi sitting at his tax-collectors booth and simply said “Follow me”. And Levi got up and followed Jesus. Why?
There doesn’t appear to be a pre-existing relationship between Levi and Jesus. Yes, Levi might have known who Jesus was. Maybe he even heard him teach or witnessed him performing a miracle. But, for all accounts, Jesus was a stranger to Levi. So, based on our presupposition that one will only choose to follow someone that they know. Why did Levi make the choice to follow Jesus?
One thing that our friend/stranger scenario didn’t account for is your perspective, as it relates to being lost. Do you believe that you are lost? Thus, you know that you need someone to show you the way? If you actually believe that you are lost, doesn’t that change your opinion about following a friend as opposed to following a stranger? For when push comes to shove, you will follow anyone, if you believe that you are lost and they have the potential of knowing the way.
Or did you already believe that you knew you were lost? Thus, you disagreed with the whole friend/stranger scenario from the very beginning? If so, the difference was your perspective.
If you know that you are lost, you will be open to guidance from anyone, friend or stranger. Simply because you know you are lost and you desire to be un-lost. If you don’t believe that you are lost, you won’t be open to following anyone. Not even a friend.
What’s the point? Levi made the choice to follow Jesus, not because of his pre-existing relationship with Jesus. But because he knew he was lost and he believed that Jesus could show him the way.
The same is true for you. You don’t need know Jesus in order to make the decision to follow. The knowing will come in time. The only thing that you need to know is that you are lost. Embrace the possibility that Jesus can show you the way. It’s a matter of perspective.