Follow Me
Last week, I shared with you Part 1 of a new series at my church called: Am I the Change? This past week, we continued the series…with a specific focus on where we each fit into the change. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” You know, it’s true…so often we see a need but we’re not always willing to get our hands dirty.

As you know, the best way for me to reflect on the message each week is to retell the story here. So with that in mind, let’s dive into the scripture. In John, Chapter 21, Jesus appears to the disciples at the Sea of Galilee. John 21: 14 “This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.” If you’re familiar with the events leading up to Jesus’ death, you know that Peter denied knowing Jesus three times before Jesus was crucified. When Peter sees Jesus, he is noticeably timid and feeling a bit guilty.

Perhaps you’ve been in these types of situations. I know I have. For example, you walk into a room and the entire room gets quiet with your entrance. It’s clear that you are the subject of some sort of gossip. That unspoken tension then becomes the “elephant in the room” until it’s addressed…if it’s ever addressed. These types of situations have a tendency to cause divide amongst friends – at least that’s my experience. Jesus is much more forgiving though and he immediately addresses Peter. John 21:15-19 says: 
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”  (referring to the other disciples)
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” 
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” 
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” 
He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” 
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
IMG_5447-Follow Me
Here’s what I gather from the exchange between Jesus and Peter: Past failures don’t disqualify us from doing great things for God. At this point, Peter is feeling pretty guilty about denying Jesus in the moments leading up to his crucifixion. If I put myself in Peter’s shoes…I know exactly how he feels…I mean, he blew it when Jesus needed him the most! 

It kind of reminds me (a stretch, but hang with me) of a recent Bachelorette episode – maybe you saw the two-part episode that started with a Flash Mob and ended with Bentley leaving the show. During that episode, several of the bachelors participate in a “Roast.” A roast is an event in which an individual (in this case, Ashley) is subjected to a public presentation of comedic insults, praise, outlandish true and untrue stories, and heartwarming tributes, the implication being that the roastee is able to take the jokes in good humor and not as serious criticism or insult, and therefore, show their good nature.

All is going well until William, the 30 year old cellular phone salesman (who thinks he’s a comedian), decides to take it to another level and says, “Ashley, so beautiful, so gorgeous, so used. They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I thought I was signing up to be with Emily or Chantal, but then Ashley’s here, so…” Granted, Bentley was thinking the same thing but William really put his foot in his mouth. As a result, William feels so bad about what he’s done that he disappears for the night in embarrassment.

Much like William, Peter was often said to only open his mouth to change foot. Here’s the difference…Peter doesn’t run and hide (or kill himself as Judas did). He allows God to forgive him. If you look at many of the biblical characters, there’s hardly a man or woman who hasn’t royally screwed up…Peter included. Moses was known to be a murderer, David (a man after God’s own heart) became an adulterer, Mary Magdalene was formerly a prostitute, and then of course we have the story of Peter. Whoever came up with the idea that you had to be perfect to be used by God? 

Matthew 9:12-13, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” When we are at our lowest, God is doing his best work within us.
IMG_5465 RS
Here’s the thing though, when we accept Jesus’ request to follow him, life isn’t necessarily going to be easy. Luke 9:58-58 says,  “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus basically is saying that if you decide to follow me (Jesus), things will change in your life. If you’ve already accepted Christ, just think about your own life has changed…your attitude, your behavior, your response to materialistic things, your relationships, etc. Following Jesus isn’t easy, but he calls for us to follow him (John 21:19, “Follow me!”) and continue following him – this is how we become the change. Continuing the story…John 21:20-23 says,
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved (John) was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” 
Jesus answered, If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
At this point, Jesus is faced with the comparison dilemma…you know what I’m talking about, “what about Bob?” [Sorry, it was way too easy.] We all do it, but comparing ourselves to others gets in the way of our obedience as well as our ability to make a difference. Furthermore, it makes us bitter. In John 21:22, Jesus basically tells Peter to “mind his own business.” You see, God may call us to do something significant (either locally or globally), but it may mean that we have to walk away from the comforts of home. It can be really tempting to become bitter when we hear that someone else has gotten a better gig, but remember the words of Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” As long as we compare our spiritual walk to others, we’ll never see the beauty of God’s plan for us because it is “far beyond anything you could imagine.” 

How do we get over ourselves and follow him? It starts with admitting you have a problem and confessing it openly. More importantly, we must remind ourselves that we have a personal relationship with Jesus and only worry about that relationship…not others’. With that said, my minister ended our lesson with a poem called “The Road of Life.” I thought I’d also share it here.
The Road of Life RS
I know this image is a little hard to read – click on it to see the full size version.
Are you learning to shut up, pedal and follow him? Or are you still riding the same, boring and predictable route?
By the way, if you’re looking for some good tunes, click HERE to listen to “The Altar” by Nichole Nordeman or click HERE to listen to “So Long Self” by Mercy Me. Also, don’t forget to enter Week 3 of my Thank You Giveaway series sponsored by A Bit of Whimsy. Comments close tonight at midnight. Oh and another thing…come back on Friday to see more of my session with Casey. Have a great Tuesday!
Giveaway at Ramblings and Photos