Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“Be followers of me, just as I also follow Christ.”
Paul, in 1Corinthians 11:1
We should have no qualms about following a man who is following Christ. God’s first act in eternity was to create someone for us all to follow, His Son. Since then, from the foundation of the world, the Son has raised up men on earth for people to follow. To follow men as they follow Christ is the way God has chosen to work out our salvation, and His way works well (as long as those whom He chooses are faithful).
The alternative to God’s way of following a man is for us to follow a religious institution. But where has God ever anointed an institution with power to do His holy work, or ever empowered an institution to preach the gospel, or ever instructed an institution in righteousness so that people might be saved by following it? And from what I have seen, those who follow an institution often become proud and sarcastic toward those who do things God’s way and follow a man.
If you really are searching for the truth about God, listen to this: Don’t look for a righteous institution; there is no such thing. Instead, look for a righteous man. In their search for God, most people ask the wrong question. They ask, “What is right?” instead of asking, “Who is right?” Look for a man, not an organization!
You may have heard at some point the often repeated criticism leveled at certain people: “You’re just following a man.” I tell you that the only people on earth who can possibly be doing things God’s way are those who are following a man, for God has chosen to work that way.
God raised up Moses, and Israel followed that man out of slavery into the land of promise. If they had waited for an institution to lead them out of Egypt, they would have died there. God raised up Abraham, who appointed Eleazar his servant to go to the city of Haran, to see if Rebekah would follow that man back to Canaan, where Isaac waited to marry her. Why did God raise up the prophets and judges of ancient Israel, except for the Israelites to follow them out of idolatry and immorality and into godliness? Dozens of times, Jesus told people to follow him, and Paul was not bashful about saying the same (e.g., 2Thess. 3:7–9). But beyond this, Paul exhorted the saints to do things God’s way and follow the men of faith chosen by God to lead them (Heb. 13:7).
Some may not want to admit this, but everybody on earth is following somebody. The very reason you wear the clothes you wear is that you are following the style set for you by other people. Those who want to be different and invent their own styles always look odd and never please God. The Lord called them foolish who followed their own spirits (Ezek. 13:3).
So, I say to those who are pursuing the right ways of God, “Be courageous!” And the next time someone accuses you of following a man, take it as a compliment, and then pity the poor soul who is not following you.