Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Following Jesus means that we always start by paying attention to who Jesus is, what Jesus does and where Jesus goes. It is not a simple thing to follow Christ and it may not always be easy. In fact, the biblical witness about Jesus reminds us that Jesus suffered and died for being who he was. Plus, of the original 12 disciples (the first followers of Jesus) almost every one of them was killed for being a leader in the church and a follower of Christ. It was costly for God to come in Christ and it may be costly for us to follow as well.
However, the verse above reminds us of something essential about the Christian life. Following Jesus is life giving and results in a life filled with light rather than darkness. Jesus helps us see God. In fact, there is no better image of who God is and what God is about than the one we see in Jesus. Jesus helps us see our true and best selves. Following Jesus means we see what we are to be about. Christ illuminates our lives and issues a calling to us to continue his work in the world. That means that the things we do as individuals and as a congregation always have a spiritual dimension to them.
At Zion, this means our first task is always to ask for some direction from Christ. Where is Jesus on this? What does Christ think we should be doing here? How can we be faithful to continuing the work Jesus has begun? Whenever we have a big decision to make like the handicap access project or a smaller one like whether to recycle or not, the decision is not just about doing what we want or what we think. Because we follow Jesus as Lord and Savior, the bottom line is, “What is Jesus’ thinking about this and how can we follow his lead to direct what we do?”
As we live our lives listening for the voice of Jesus, consider these words from Martin Luther: “Christ teaches so gently that he entices rather than commands.” Jesus is speaking. The key is for us to be sure that we are paying attention!