sports, who would you follow?"
Every night driving
home down the 405 freeway to Long Beach I pass a billboard that reads,
"Without sports, who would you follow?" As a pastor you can imagine
my immediate response, "with or without sports, first you follow Jesus!"
But more and more I think about what this message says about the generation
of ESPN (who sponsored the billboard) worshippers and how much the media
influences what we follow.
The literal meaning
of the Greek word akoloutheo ("acolyte" comes from this word) means
"to walk behind" or "to let another lead." A more figurative meaning
is: to be a disciple of. What is it that leads you in your daily
life? Who or what is it that you walk behind? The appropriate
answer for anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian is "Jesus."
But can you honestly say that Jesus Christ has the most influence in your
the former executive director of Faith at Work, was fascinated by
the way life-changing truth can be communicated person to person.
So he conducted an experiment. He literally asked hundreds of people,
in small groups and individually this two part question; Which person has
been the most influential force in your life, and what was the nature of
your relationship with this person?
First, he found
that the person most frequently named who most influenced others, though
in some way superior, always treated the other as an equal. He or
she didn't provide a service, but was rather a friend and a servant
in the relationship.
Second, in the
stories that were told, the influential person was genuinely interested
in hearing what the other person had to say. This was a sincere concern
for the other person's well being.
Third, the influential
persons were vulnerable and open about their own weaknesses. They
were honest, and in that honesty asked for the other's help. They were
not stingy receivers. They themselves had needs and expressed those
What could this
mean in relationship to being a disciple of Jesus? First, when we
let Jesus influence our lives, he becomes the most influential person in
our lives. Though superior, he knows what it is like to be human.
He didn't come to earth to provide a service but rather befriended many
people in his life. As a servant in his relationship with others he communicated
God's love for all in tangible ways. We can do that!
In the stories
we hear about Jesus in relationship with others he was genuinely interested
in what the other person had to say. He didn't have to fake care
or concern for others, he really cared for God's people, usually the ones
who were on the fringes of society. We can do that!
of Jesus was expressed in a variety of ways. He openly wept at the
death of his friend. He feared the coming days as he prayed in the
garden of Gethsemane. He delighted in the presence of small children.
He cried out from the cross for his Father. Jesus showed us an honest
way to ask for help when he needed it. Maybe the best example was
to recruit 12 guys and take them on the road with him. Jesus was
open and honest about what he needed and was not afraid to ask for help.
We can do that!
is never easy. It usually means that we give up our self-satisfying
sainthood and let someone else lead our lives. The reality of the
valuable message of the Christian gospel is best conveyed relationally,
not through argument or debate. The invitation into an authentic
sharing of Jesus in a world where words have become cheap and there are
so many other competing invitations comes from the One who called you into
the good news. People respond much more to how we feel about them
and treat them than through what we try to tell them.
We can do that!