Jesus said, “Follow Me.”

Jesus’ simple words from John 1:43 echo through the ages and in our soul as well. Two simple words that carry the weight of our entire lives.  

Follow me. 

There are so many things in our lives clamouring for attention. Work, relationships, the internet, family, the urgent, chores, entertainment and stuff. It never stops.

They are never the one thing that really needs to come first. 

Jesus said, “Follow Me”. 

It’s the simplest and yet the toughest command He gave. Follow me.

Everything else falls into place because the proper place for everything else is after Jesus. Jesus takes first place today and always. Lately in Diaspora, we’re talking about growing in godly character and this is the ultimate way to do so. Putting things in their right place in our lives, second to Jesus as we follow Him. 

But it’s not about self improvement — like “40 days to lose 40 pounds” or “31 days to build a good habit”. Those things could be side benefits but following Jesus is really about ultimate life priorities.

Jesus said, “Follow Me”.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. 

Ash Wednesday is the day many of Jesus’ followers have their foreheads marked with ash, possibly in a cross. This marks the followers of Jesus acknowledging our weakness and need for Him.  We are made of dust and to dust we return. It is the adoption of a posture of penitence. We repent of our sins in humility and look toward God for forgiveness. 

Some Ash Wednesday scriptures…

Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.

Psalm 51:7-10 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.

Makes sense then that Ash Wednesday begins Lent, a time of repenting and putting God first in our lives. We give up other elements by fasting. 

As we mark over a year of living in the shadow of Covid 19, the cry in our house came, “what else do we have to give up!?” It was funny at first. But then we realized how true it was. 

It has been almost a year of giving things up. 

We gave up meeting together for family events and celebrations, church gatherings, work and education. We gave up travel, dining out, going to movies, hugging the ones we love and sharing meals.

We gave up a lot. But between God and myself, I know there is more I could give up to follow Jesus.

Giving up something for Lent is an option for you. If you haven’t already done so you can still take time to pray and consider what you will give up in this season.

Fasting something for Lent involves putting Jesus first and something else second. So we give up the thing that is second. We redirect the attention, love, desire, hunger or reliance from that item onto God instead. 

We turn toward God. Repentance is by definition turning 180 degrees away from something and toward something or someone else. In this case, Jesus. 

Lent prepares our hearts for Easter, when Jesus answers our need for forgiveness and brings us new life. Jesus died to take our sins upon Himself even though He had never sinned. Then He defeated sin by rising from the dead to bring forgiveness and new life to anyone who will come to Him.

So, think and pray and ask God if there is something for you to give up during Lent as you turn your attention to your own weakness, need for repentance and ultimately upon Jesus and the forgiveness He brings. 

Jesus said, “Follow Me”.

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