“Looking Back” – A devotional by Bryan Johnston

JohnstonWhen I was in college, I was blessed to spend one summer in Takahagi, Japan teaching English using the Bible. One day our hosting minister Sensei Yatabe, took us on a tour of Tokyo. Without any instruction or preparation, we stepped off the train in downtown Tokyo. Sensei Yatabe looked at me alone, since I was the closest person to him, and quickly said, “Follow Me.” Quickly turned back around and hurriedly started walking ahead. With only a slight hesitation and moment of concern, I glanced immediately at the team member behind me, making brief eye contact and said, “Let’s Go!” From the corner of my eye I could still see the back of Yatabe’s head and darted off.

Keeping my eyes resolutely set on his indistinct straight black hair, we were led through intersections and streets flooded with thousands of other Japanese citizens. I was fearful of losing track of my leader and at the same time fearful of losing my followers. Our Sensei never once looked back to make sure I was following, and I in turn was never able to look back at my followers. If I had gone astray, I would have gotten our whole team lost. As God was with us, I was able to catch up to our leader and avoid being lost. Only then was I able to look back to joyfully see that my three friends were right behind me. I guess it helps to have red-hair. We are all called to be disciples and disciple-makers. We are called to be followers and leaders. As a leader it is helpful to stay close, look back, and assist your followers.

When calling his followers Jesus says, “repent” and steer your life toward his kingdom. Once redirected and committed Jesus says, “Come follow me.” Later along their discipleship journey of becoming like him, he says, “Go and make disciples.” The goal is that the students will become the teachers. And like Paul, the disciple-making disciples will be able to confidently say to their followers, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Jesus is looking back at you. As you make disciples, be sure to look back at your followers.

Bryan Johnston

Preaching minister, North Bend, Oregon USA Church of Christ – nbcoc@hotmail.com / www.churchofchristnb.com

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