Some background info: I attend Rosalind Hills Baptist Church in Roanoke, VA. Each month a publication of devotions is produced that go along with the pastors sermon series. For the month of March I was asked to contribute a devotion for March 3 and the Sermon title is "The Mark of Following." Since many of my followers do not attend my church I wanted to post it here.
Scripture Reference: Mark 1:14 - 20
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Mark 2:13 - 17
Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Phariseeshttp://www.biblestudytools.com/mark/passage.aspx?q=mark+2:13-17 saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
"She and her best friend made regular trips to the beach during their early college years, as was custom they would head down to "The Circle" to cruise and meet people. The atmosphere at "The Circle" was very distinctive. The crowd was a mix of teenagers, young adults and middle aged adults, most intoxicated to some degree by alcohol or drugs. On one occasion they decided to park the car and walk along the boardwalk. As the night progressed she found herself sharing her faith in Jesus with others and engaging their questions about God and Jesus. During the conversation a van with a church name on it drove through "The Circle" and yelled, "Repent of your sins so you can avoid hell!" Then several pieces of paper came out of the van and onto them. In that moment she felt judged and misunderstood. The people in the van had no clue what the conversation was about because they never got out of the van."
To follow Jesus is to take a risk, a risk that you will be misunderstood and even judged. To follow Jesus also means to move, move from one place to another. The disciples provide us with the example of movement. They left from where they worked and lived and went where Jesus went. Jesus provides us with the example of risk by eating with tax collectors and having fellowship with those deemed as sinners of his day. We as believers are called to nothing less. To follow Jesus means to move, to get out of the boat, to get out of the car, to go outside the worship house and build relationships. That is the scandalous gospel that we read about. Jesus was misunderstood, judged and executed. The disciples were misunderstood, judged and at least one; Peter, we know for sure was executed for his faith in Jesus. Many in the history of the church have risked greatly for the sake of the gospel, and many around the world still do today. For the sake of the gospel, may we risk being misunderstood and judged and follow Jesus as the disciples did.