FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY

November 9, 2021

following too closely

Have you ever been driving down the highway and seen one driver following another car WAY TOO closely?

I feel frustrated when someone does it to me, and have to fight the temptation to "brake check" the driver into considering more space. (For those reading the translated versions of this devotional, in the USA we use the term "brake check" to describe a quick pump of the brake pedal intended to cause the person driving too closely to jam on their brakes.) I've watched enough instant karma videos to know that giving in to that impulse seldom if ever ends well. Even though I've seen the videos where "brake checks" cause multi-car collisions with serious damage, I still have to battle the temptation. To be honest, not many of the temptations that arise in those moments are worthy of a godly bishop.

A couple of days ago my wife and I were out doing some shopping. As we pulled our car into the parking space, I noticed a bumper sticker on the rear window of the car next to ours. It was a simple black sticker with a single question in type that was not overly large. It asked, "Are you following Jesus this closely?"

I had to laugh, because it instantly reminded me of the times when I was the one pressuring the car in front of me with my proximity and impatience. And it's a great intro to today's verse:
IF WE SAY WE ARE HIS, WE MUST FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST.

Jesus is never going to "brake check" you. He never looks at you and thinks to Himself "Wow, they are WAY TOO close!" He has called us to follow Him; and the closer, the better.

Following Christ does not mean simply saying a prayer or joining a church. It means living your faith in a way that impacts the world in your circle of influence. Living your faith.

A living faith is going to be seen in your actions and your words. A living faith will change your choices.

In much the same way as getting married changes just about every aspect of your life, binding you irrevocably to decisions and actions that reflect that relationship; giving your life to Jesus will lead to changes that everyone can see. The living expression of your love for your spouse will cause you to do certain things (and refrain from doing certain things) because you treasure the relationship. No one who is truly in love with their husband or wife feels that expressions of committed love are a chore. Things like being sexually faithful, treating them with honor and compassion, holding hands and spending time together -- these are joyful parts of a living relationship. They flow naturally out of vibrant marriages.

I feel that the marriage relationship is a particularly good example, especially since the bible calls the Church "the bride of Christ." Our living relationship with Jesus will cause us to do certain things (and refrain from doing certain things) because we treasure our relationship with Him. We don't feel that our expressions of committed love - prayer, worship, ministry in our gifts and calling - are a chore. These are joyful parts of a living relationship. They flow naturally out of a vibrant faith.

Whoever says, “I am married and cherish my spouse,” but does not remain sexually faithful is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys the vow they made, love for their spouse is truly made complete in them. You can see it in their actions; it is displayed in their daily choices.

Treasured relationships always come with boundaries and expectations. They protect what we cherish, set it apart from the commonplace. "Rules," if you will; but things we must do.

IF WE SAY WE ARE HIS, WE MUST FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST.

We must! It is at once a command and an observation.

The bible verses leading up to today's verse say this:
"We know that we have come to know Him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: IF WE SAY WE ARE HIS, WE MUST FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST."

Follow. Follow VERY CLOSELY. As you continue to let Jesus fill your life, He will cause your love for Him to grow deeper and stronger. Let the love you have for Christ grow !!! Then let the love you have for Christ SHOW. Follow Him into the situations where He calls YOU to be the expression of His love. Live your faith out loud. Let people see Jesus in you; and He will draw them to Himself.

IF WE SAY WE ARE HIS, WE MUST FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST.

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