I am a sucker for any TV series that has anything to do with solving crime, adventure, behavior analysis, or has political overtones. Some of my favorite shows over the years have been 24, Law & Order, and Criminal Minds. These shows get your mind and heart racing. Shows like this have also allowed me to get a unique perspective on human nature. They tend to show the consequences of how sinful the human heart is and how if it goes unchecked terrible things can happen. This winter there has been a new show that has really caught my attention. That show is The Following.
The Following is a show that is centered on a serial killer and a group of people that he has convinced to act as “acolytes” and continue killing for him while he is locked up. It is amazing the dynamic tension that they have created between the killer and his “following”. These followers are completely loyal to John Carroll and will even die for him if the occasion presents itself. As the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) tries to pinpoint the next move of these followers, they try to get inside the head of the killer who is in a Maximum Security Prison. One of the FBI agents is brought out of retirement to shed light on this killer since he was the one who captured him 8 years ago. They think if they can understand the mind of this killer they might be able to predict the next move of his followers. As I watched this show, I could not help but think about how this contrasts with how the world views the church and Christians.
The world has developed this view of Christ based on the behavior of His followers. They assume that if the followers of Christ act in a particular way then Jesus must be the same way. I can see how they might think that way. If the world only hears what we as followers are against, they never really know what we are for. The world has developed a skewed few of the one we follow. We as followers do a poor job carrying out the mission that was left for us to undertake. In order to be a good follower, we must get a clear picture of the message and mission that must be carried out and not waver from that mission. We must be willing to give ourselves fully over to the mission of the one we follow without any regard for our own need and well-being. In this show, these followers will do what ever it takes to make sure the mission is carried out. No obstacle is too big for them to overcome in order to get this message out. The other concept that really struck me is that they wanted to make sure that the one they follow knew their devotion and how much they believed in the mission. In one episode a follower wanted make sure that “Joe” knew he did everything he could do to make things work. He wanted Joe to know he did his best. When he felt that he had completed his mission, although he really failed, he killed himself rather than live with the knowledge that he had failed the one he followed. It seems like the acolytes that the killer has found to follow him have almost had their souls invaded and are so drawn to him that they cannot help but be obedient to him. What would the world look like if every believer followed Christ with such reckless abandon?
When we hear the call to follow Christ, it is more than just a physical or mental decision to follow him. In Matthew 4:19, we see that when Jesus called his disciples it was a request to come and follow a Rabbi and teacher. In the Jewish culture, young men would study the law and the prophets. Then periodically have interviews with Rabbis to see if they had what it took to be Disciples. There were several stages that a young man would go through to see if he had “the right stuff”. If he pasted the test, he would follow the Rabbi and take on his “yoke” or teaching. If he did not pass the test, he would be encouraged to take on the trade of his father. The fisherman that Jesus called on that shore in Galilee had failed the test. They were working in the trade of their fathers. So when the Rabbi came by and said, “Follow Me”, they left all to follow. They realized that he saw “the right stuff” within them. This was a physical following. Peter would later be called to an inward following.
In John 20:22, we see the resurrected Jesus talking with His disciples and giving them a blessed gift. He breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. This was a down payment of what was going to happen at Pentecost. They were sealed and filled with the Holy Spirit at that moment, just as we are the moment we commit our lives to Christ. When the Holy Spirit was given to them it was an invasion of the soul. It invaded the very core of their being. An invasion is a military offensive consisting of all, or large parts of the armed forces of one geopolitical entity aggressively entering territory controlled by another such entity, generally with the objective of either conquering, liberating or reestablishing control or authority over a territory, forcing the partition of a country, altering the established government or gaining concessions from said government, or a combination thereof. An invasion can be the cause of a war, be used, as a part of a larger strategy to end a war, or it can constitute an entire war in itself. Due to the large scale of the operations associated with invasions, they are usually strategic in planning and execution. This invasion ended the war between God and man. God strategically planned this invasion before the foundations of the world were created. We have been liberated from the power and bondage of sin. Our relationship has been restored.
Later Jesus restores Peter by asking him a series of questions to check Peter’s motives. Earlier in the Book of John, Peter vowed to give his life to follow Christ, but later denied him. Peter was quick to commit the flesh to something that it was not capable of. After Peter and been broken and come to the end of himself, he realized that apart from Christ he could do nothing. Now after the Holy Spirit was given and Peter was restored, we see Jesus give a command that he also gives to us today. In John, 21:19, we see Jesus command Peter saying, “Follow Me”. Apart from the Holy Spirit, we cannot truly follow Christ. We must inwardly be broken and surrender daily to the Spirit in order to fully follow Christ. We must allow ourselves to be invaded by the Holy Spirit. If you have not yet surrendered to Christ, let 2013 be “the year of invasion”. May Christ invade all that you endeavor in the coming year. Let the invasion begin and follow the one and true savior Jesus Christ.