Followers

As one of the largest and fastest growing social networks, Twitter has now over 200 million users. The network allows users to communicate messages with a maximum of 140 characters, called ‘tweets’. Only last year, 25 billion tweets were sent in Twitter land.[1] As we know, many celebrities are using the network widely and some companies have even hired people to exclusively manage their Twitter account.

In order to receive real time ‘tweets’ from someone, it’s necessary to become a follower of that person. Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, for example, have more than 10 million followers on Twitter. There are even applications that exist to help you increase the number of followers and therefore reach a broader audience.

Twitter’s use of the term follower is obviously very shallow and vague. By choosing to simply be aware of what some people have to say, I become their follower.

A much deeper and radical notion of what it means to follow someone is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. He once said to Peter and James, two brothers who worked as fishermen: “Come, follow me.”[2] These young men left their work, own aspirations and security in order to embrace the unknown beside Jesus.

Some people are happy to follow Jesus in the Twitter way: brief interactions and quick messages with the option of clicking the ‘unfollow’ bottom anytime they wish. But according to Jesus’ own words, this is not what he has in mind. He expressed: “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”[3]

To be a follower of Jesus means to surrender entirely to Him. It means to plan, work, study, decide, choose, relate, etc. in light of Jesus’ teachings. It requires exclusivity, as Jesus himself said we cannot serve two masters.[4]

Jesus’ declaration to Peter and James (and then to many others) was unconventional. Such words would not typically come from a Rabbi, a Jewish teacher, like Jesus. Young men would seek a Rabbi to become his follower and not the other way round. Jesus’ seeking out disciples himself may therefore represent a serious breach of custom.[5] What he invites us into is not a system, an ideology or even a religion; it’s a relationship.

Many consider that the level of commitment that Jesus asks of his followers is simply too extreme and unrealistic for today’s society. Following someone on Twitter is as far as many of us are willing to go. But have you considered going further? Honestly, I’ve been astonished by the beauty, mystery, freedom and love found in the journey of becoming his follower.

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3 responses to “Followers

  1. Pingback: Real Things are Complicated — not like Twitter « pinkbriefcase·

  2. Hi Helder. I am new to blogging and did not realize that my post would link to your topic — this is the only time I have had anyone other than my traditional four or five readers comment and honestly I am embarrassed and apologetic. I understand that we are speaking to different worlds and would appreciate if you deleted the link. I continue to believe that revealing Christ to others depends on sharing real truths and struggles, not surface jollies, but I completely understand that doing so requires first that His name is comfortably spoken in the community. My readers and I live in a world where Christ’s name is often used as the stimulus for inappropriate, un-Christian political movements and I should have taken the time to review your readership before allowing my thoughts to spill over into your ministry.

    I appreciate your words and will consider and respond to them in due time.

  3. Hi, thank you very much for your last comment. I also appreciate your words. I’m glad we’ve been able to dialogue and, in the process, learn together. God bless you!

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