I will never forget one of the first times that I took students along with me on a mission trip to inner-city Chicago. Well, it was more like a learning experience for these students than a mission trip because of the rural area that our church was from.
We were traveling to a section of Chicago that, though I had lived near for a couple years, I had never visited. That meant that I did not exactly know how to get there.
But I had heard from a friend about this incredible experience in that area, and was excited to take our students there. So I was determined to get us there, even though I had never been there myself.
Fortunately, we live in a digital age, and certain modern technological achievements allowed me to use my iPhone’s GPS to navigate the route needed to arrive at our destination. And, as expected, the experience we had once we got there was phenomenal! It was the trip of the year!
I look back on that experience and reflect on how glad I was that we had chosen to lead our students to a destination to which we had never been, personally.
But I think, when it comes to our spiritual lives, we have a different outlook. Let me rephrase that… I have had a different outlook.
I used to always say that you can’t lead somebody to a destination where you haven’t been, yourself. But is that even true? Can I actually lead others toward a destination to which I have not been, myself? I guess I would tend to rephrase that now…
You can’t lead somebody where you aren’t currently going.
In fact, in this life, it is very difficult to lead people in the right direction, having already been there yourself. We are all trying to lead others to some ideal or perfect or better life. We are all wanting God’s best for our lives, and for the lives of those who follow us. We are all wanting deeper holiness. We are all wanting more wisdom. We are all wanting greater leadership capacities.
But, on the other hand, we are all in the process of going there, needing guidance on the path ourselves, as well. Not one of us has it all figured out. None of us are the paragon of excellence when it comes to right living or right thinking.
I think the apostle Paul got it right when he said, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). In other words, “Follow me as I am also on the journey to become more like Jesus…something I have not yet achieved.”
This is what real discipleship is. This is what our goal should be in our lives. This is what it really means to follow Jesus.
So let’s stop trying to pretend that our journey has fewer mistakes and wrong turns than somebody else’s. And let’s start following the only One who really does have the answer…together. Indeed, He is the only Answer.
The more that we try to pretend that we’ve got all the answers on our own, the less we actually know Him, and the further apart we become from each other.
What do YOU think it looks like to follow Jesus together, without focusing on the ways we have individually fallen off the path?
Let me know in the comments below!