When Jesus calls people to follow him, to chase after him, to go where he goes, he means exactly that. Following Jesus is not an intellectual exercise or some metaphysical idea—it’s an actual, physical, rubber-meets-road way of life. It is an as-we-go, day-in-day-out, conscious and unconscious thing that we participate in and partner in together.
A pastor friend recently encouraged me with these words:
The only way that we can make followers of Jesus is by being and becoming followers of Jesus ourselves. And it starts by recognizing our identity as children of a loving, patient, generous Father, who is encouraging and raising us up into maturity, not simply to become more knowledgeable or to do right things without cultivating right relationship, but to become like the Father. To grow in compassion and mercy and forgiveness and justice. To reveal the goodness and greatness of our Father to the world, as the world sees his goodness and greatness reflected in us. To see God’s kingdom expand, to see earth transformed into something that looks more like heaven. This is why we follow. It doesn’t start with our heads, (what we know) and it doesn’t start with our hands (what we do). It starts with our hearts (what, how we love).
Following in the ways of our Father means following in the footsteps of the Son. Jesus is God the Father come to earth in flesh and bone and spirit. Jesus, in his words, in his life, and even in his death, reveals the glory of God, the promise of God, the hope of God, the plans of God, the word of God. Jesus shows us the way. And this way is the key to life in our church.