We are in the middle of this fall sermon series on leading others by first being followers of Jesus. To follow Jesus is “easy” and the “burden is light”. It doesn’t always seem that way, and it certainly doesn’t always feel that way. Jesus and the whole of the Scriptures continuously remind us that this is the case. That in the world we will have trouble; we will experience heartache such that we will groan with all of creation in pain, like a woman in childbirth. The difference is that we are not left to suffer or abandoned until we get the hard work done. We are led by Christ!
I imagine following Jesus as similar to someone following another through difficult terrain. Maybe it is tall grasses and weeds, or deep snow. The first person to go does all the difficult work of clearing the brush or trampling the snow. The second person is able to literally walk in the first person’s footsteps or follow the same path that has already been cleared. Being the first follower is much easier than clearing a new path!
I firmly believe that as Christians we falsely believe God is asking us to trod a new path or initiate a new direction. Our assumption is that whatever is in front of us is “our responsibility” that God has given to us. We easily forget Jesus and the Holy Spirit go before us. God works in the heart of man and knocks down barriers. He makes the path straight by raising up valleys and lowering mountains. Yes, the work is still difficult, but it not nearly as difficult as we often make it.
The key to being a successful Christian leader is not by solving the world’s problems but rather by following where Jesus leads. He has gone before us and calls us into action as a response to His work. He desires to comfort, protect and challenge us to greater faith by listening and leaning in to Him.
Where do you try to carve your own path? Where have you rejected Christ’s leadership? Where have you taken God’s responsibilities and made them your own? Take a moment and give those burdens back to Christ and take His path to be your own. You will go farther and find more joy in trusting and following Him than you’ve ever experienced, and so will those lives of the people around you.
His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss