God has called each of us to follow Him. This is a life devoted to trying to learn to mimic our teacher, mentor and Lord, Jesus. Today, let’s look at a few scriptures and see what a life devoted to following God is all about.
18 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord. Leviticus 18:1-5
God tells Moses to instruct the Isrealites to now follow a different standard than what they were used to. Even though they were slaves, they were raised in a certain lifestyle and the practices and customs of the Egyptians was what was normal to them. Moses was trying to prepare the people by pointing out who they were and how they should follow after the God who had delivered them. They now knew that they were God’s chosen people and that He hadd called them to be His own. But He also wanted them to know there would be conditions attached to the call to follow.
God made it clear that they should not practice the old ways of the Egyptians because He had called out from under the bondage of slavery. He also was leading them into a new land and Israel had to be warned not to take up the ways of the people of that land.
What God wanted them to understand was that He was leading them into a new way of living and that they were going to have a new truth to follow. It would take sacrifice, commitment, and at times following God can result in the world hating or rejecting you.
A fantastic story that portrays the risk and faith in following God can be seen in the Book of Ruth.
16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Ruth 1:16
Ruth was married to one of Naomi’s sons and was a Moabite woman. It was not custom to marry outside their culture and people. When Naomi’s husband and two sons passed away, one of Naomi’s daughter in laws decided to go back to her home country, but Ruth pledged to stay with Naomi as she travelled back home to Isreal. Now this was a risky move on Ruth’s behalf because she was a gentile, and in all likelyhood, would not be accepted and could very well be treated like a second class citizen. However, Ruth saw something in the life of Naomi, something that showed her there was one true God. Ruth was determined to to follow the God of Israel.
And in the verse we read, we see Ruth’s response to Naomi, which parallels our response, or what it should be, to our call to follow Jesus. “where you go, I will go, …where you lodge, I will lodge”. As disciples, we are pledging to follow Jesus, wherever that takes us, whatever that may look like to us personally. Ruth then makes a bold statement of faith “your people shall be my people, and your God my God”. Essentially, Ruth was proclaiming she was leaving behind her old life and gentile culture. She was now going to follow the God of Israel.
However, the story of Ruth is an incredible one, and I encourage you to read this book. Because of her faithfulness, God blessed her and her willingness to follow Naomi and her God, Ruth became grafted into the geneology of Jesus Christ. (Mathew 1:5-6), and the great-grand mother of King David. Much like we have become grafted into God’s family when we place our faith in Jesus Christ.
When we make a decision to follow Christ, it literally changes the direction of our lives forever. We, just like Ruth, are to leave everything behind and walk forward into a “new land”, and join with a new people- the Church. There is risk and sacrifice, but huge reward.
so the question today is, are we willing to leave behind our old way to follow God?