“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
A few years ago, I remember being outside in the winter and walking through some deep snow to get to my parents’ house. It was knee deep and heavy so the going was difficult. I also had my children with me, and they really struggled as they were very young at the time and the snow was waist high on them. They could only get through the snow by walking in my footsteps. It did not take long for me to realize that in order for them to follow me, I had to adjust my own gait and speed in order for them to be able to keep up. Instead of stepping over the snow with my usual wide gait, I needed to shuffle my feet so that I could provide them with a clear path for their little steps to follow. Had I taken bigger steps, my children would have been unable to reach each footprint. I also stopped to point out obstacles and help them over any areas that were difficult to navigate. It was slow going, but working this way we eventually arrived at our destination after having climbed over fallen tree branches and carefully slid over some slippery patches.
As disciples of Christ, we are called to follow the path that Jesus has laid before. Assistance can come from following the example of those who have gone before us. We are, after all, Christ-followers. In Corinthians 11:1, Paul essentially asks us to do as he does, just as he works at doing as Christ does. In reference to my walk with my children in the snow, I was asking them to follow me and DO as I DO.
Discipleship is not a class or a program. Discipleship is a relationship. It is journeying together. It is doing life with Jesus and welcoming others to do the same. It is supporting those around you in following the direction and example of Christ as you do the same.
I recall that one of my children was not thrilled about having to walk outside in the cold and deep snow. I remember her asking why we had to walk. I explained that we needed to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and that we needed to walk there. You see, in order to get somewhere, we must actually DO something. In order to grow and journey with Jesus, we must DO something too. We must move and grow. As we DO, we move forward; we grow and achieve new ground in our faith. We are transformed by DOing. Through our discipleship journey, we learn to be more like our Teacher, Jesus.
Jesus calls us to go and DO – not just to know, but DO by taking action. Knowing is certainly one part of discipleship, but we must take what we know and then DO as we know. Knowing but not doing is not discipleship. Knowing the path is one thing, walking it is another. Knowing how a hammer works is one thing but using it to build something is another. Don’t just know…DO.
Through our discipleship journey, we also receive great joy from journeying with others. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we may all be at different steps in our journey, but we can still travel together. We are not alone. Discipleship can be hard and the support of others is invaluable. Traveling with others can also be messy. It does not take long to learn that when you welcome people into your life, things can get messy and complicated. This reminds me of house cleaning – I know that I can keep my house clean if it’s only myself I have to worry about. Then, there is no one else around to make messes and not clean up after themselves. I can control the situation. However, as soon as I welcome life and activity into my home, mess follows. But the joy of sharing my Christian walk with others means I’m not alone. Not only am I able to lean on my fellow Christ-followers for support when needed, but I can also bring encouragement and help to others in their times of need. Doing life with God and with others has many rewards.
Ultimately, what we do matters. Being a follower of Jesus is not just about what we believe and know, but what we DO. At times the journey can be difficult, but nothing is more horrible than living without hope. Jesus walked this earth before us and asked us to follow. He shuffles his feet so we can follow. He points out the obstacles and helps us traverse the challenges. He also puts people in our lives so we can make the journey together – helping one another through the deep snow and over the icy bits.