I've just returned from a trip to the Northwest of Tasmania and I feel like I've just stepped out of a time capsule. Life in their fast lane is a lot slower than life in our slow lane. Just the same, the friendliness of the people was second to none. I had lots of chats and many 'cuppas'. The main reason for my trip was to attend an eightieth birthday celebration. What impressed me on the night was the content of the speeches. All told of a life of honesty, trust, solid friendship and loyalty and an unswerving trust in God. There was no doubt that this man portrayed a model worth following. My old friend had responded to the call of God on his life as a young man. This was not a call to be a minister of religion, but a call to be a follower of Jesus Christ. One becomes a Christian by choosing to follow Him and that is foundational in order to have a relationship with Him. Wanting to be in this relationship implies a willingness to follow. Jesus illustrated this in His stories of the shepherd and his sheep. Many of Jesus' teachings were set in quiet rural villages among country folks where shepherds led their sheep and knew each one by name. That is why Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice and follow me". Why they followed was simple. To stay close to the shepherd meant food, shelter, safety and warmth. Food, because the shepherd fed them by using his crook to pull down branches of leaves due to lack of grass in the desert and shelter and safety because the shepherd took His sheep to a secure place at night and slept with them. Jesus realized that even some close to Him would not follow Him yet He was also aware that there would be others in the future who would follow. Following Jesus can be like the Conga at the party; each person hooks onto and follows another. The best place to be is behind the leader (Jesus), in second place in the dance. Others can join on, but the ones closest to the leader are the best 'followers'. Jesus took His leadership model to an extreme point when He said, "I am the Good shepherd and I give my life for my sheep". That is the metaphor from ancient shepherd times that should blow us away. That sort of a leader is worth following. If you think God is calling you to follow, I'd like to help you explore the possibility.
Graeme Dawson B.Min.
On behalf of the following participants:
Christian & Missionary Alliance
Church of Christ
River Valley Church
Valley Christian Fellowship