A few years ago, Stacia asked one of her friends at M.I.T. named Taylor to read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. He couldn’t put it down one Saturday night and by the next morning felt he had to start following the man Lewis talked about.
If Jesus were to stand in front of you and say, “Follow me,” what would be the first thoughts that would pop into your mind?
I remember a student named John at Harvard who was a critic of organized religion. We met in a freshman dorm on Monday nights for a reading and discussion of the four Gospels of the New Testament. After reading repeated incidents of people starting to follow Jesus after hearing those words “follow me,” John began to hear God calling him with the same two words. He heard it in the architecture of the campus, the original coat of arms that adorns the iron gateways to the heart of campus, and when he was alone with his thoughts late at night. Finally, John consented.
Just two words. That’s all it took to change the future of a freshman raised in a family whose purpose in life was to make money any way possible. Those same words influenced Taylor.
That’s all it took to change another man whose job was to collect taxes from people. An ancient writer recorded the story that long before the IRS could claim to be taxpayer-friendly, a man named Matthew (as some called him), knew every trick in the book to finagle money out of the hands of hard working people. Matthew always seemed to get whatever the Roman government said he should, regardless of the cost to the person or family…he even took extra for himself. His life and reputation consisted of getting money and then getting stuff money could buy.
One day the most famous Person of his time walked up to his tax-collecting booth and said two words that caused him to contemplate his future. Two words made Matthew wonder if he could stand to leave behind all that money (and power?), give up the benefits of ill-gotten gain, and walk away from the corrupt handlers who sat with him on the dishonest side of society.
Read Matthew 9:9-12. Did you notice the result of the encounter in verse 9?
Scripture records his immediate decision. His old name was Levi and his job was to collect taxes. His new name was Matthew and his job was now to be a fisher of men. He obeyed the two words of the visiting Teacher, got up from his desk, left it all behind, and followed Him. Those two words are still being asked and offered today to you, me, and others from the same Person.
Just as Jesus walked up to Levi and said, “Follow Me,” He is calling us to follow Him. He is mobilizing and empowering men and women, boys and girls from across all demographics to build His Kingdom. He wants us to make Him more important than getting rich, pursuing earthly power, prestige, and popularity, and grabbing all the goodies that goes along with it. He wants us to make Him Lord of our lives. Levi answered immediately and became a trusted disciple.
I wonder what God will do with those of us who decide to follow Him as Levi, John, and Taylor did – in response to two words. We have a chance to influence tomorrow’s leaders today on campus. What difference can you make in your area of influence? Serve globally. Seize the chance to ask others to follow Him. The blessings of following Jesus always outweigh the costs.
Love is a verb,