Within the world of social media there are those known as "Ghost followers". According to Wikipedia, "Ghost followers, also referred to as ghosts and ghost accounts or lurkers, are users on social media platforms who remain inactive or do not engage in activity. These users follow active members, but do not partake in liking, commenting, messaging, and posting." Ghost followers may be generated from actual humans or from bots designed to hack, lurk and or scam the user of the social media account.
This idea was brought on by the explosive growth of online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. People want to stay loosely connected without every truly identifying themselves as followers or supporters. They're curious but not yet willing to throw their hat in the ring. They're actively inactive.
As I thought about this trend I was reminded of the call on the lives of Christ followers to take up their cross and follow Jesus. Bible Gateway records Jesus words like this, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me." What did Jesus have in mind when he told his followers this? Follow at a distance? Follow when convenient? Follow when comfortable? I'm confident that His intention then and now is that we follow always. His intention is that we stay in lock step with His movements. His intention was that we hang on the very words that flow from His Spirit.
What would it look like for you and I to hang on the very words of Jesus? What would it look like for you and I to become so consumed with His work in our lives and in the lives of those around us that everything else just faded away? The prayer that I have for my life is that I would allow all else to slip quietly into the background, that my eyes would narrow and that my gaze would lock onto Jesus Himself. "Lord, if I am guilty of ghost following You, please forgive me. I pray that you would highlight those times in my life and give me the strength to stay focused and to not allow my relationship with you to slip into the background. Give me discernment, give me discipline. Amen." Be encouraged and keep moving forward.
In 1991 a guy by the name of David Strasser wrote a now well known chorus entitled, "Step by Step". It was co-written and popularized by Strasser's good friend, popular Christian artist of the time, Rich Mullins. The song quickly made its rounds through churches and church camps and remained there for decades. Even now, close to 30 years later it still pops up at summer camps and church services occasionally.
I have fond memories of singing this very song as a teenager at my church camp. It was a simple song, played on an acoustic guitar and at least for me always served as an intimate moment of worship. I think what appealed to me was the simplicity of the lyrics. It wasn't super theological. It wasn't difficult to understand. It didn't feel unattainable. It didn't feel overwhelming. It spoke of a progression. One step at a time, one day at a time, learning with each new day how to become more of the man God was calling me to be. Knowing that if I did my part to seek Him each day, He would do His part to guide me along right paths.
I heard this song a few nights ago and was again reminded of the journey that God desires each of us to take along with Him. Allow me to encourage you and perhaps more so remind myself of this truth. Seek God regularly each day and allow Him to guide you step by step. Your life won't magically be easier but you will have greater peace as you learn to navigate through difficulties. Start your day by focusing on His Word and speaking/listening to Him through prayer. Following Jesus isn't easy but it is simple. As simple as the lyrics of this song. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.
I've done quite a bit of traveling this summer and in all of my travels I have come to one inescapable conclusion. Hotel breakfasts are weird. It's not the people, it's the concept. If you've ever stayed at a hotel that offers breakfast then you've experienced the weirdness of this moment. For starters, it's the first time in your life that you've ever glanced in the mirror before walking to breakfast. Usually you stumble into breakfast half awake with a streak of crazy in your eye but today, because you are staying in a hotel, you actually ran a comb through your hair and attempted to wash the crazy off your face so as not to scare any children you might run into. You shuffle into this room and nervously glance from table to table looking for a spot to claim as your own, because while you've been invited for breakfast your seat isn't guaranteed. Weird right?
You stake your claim at a table in the corner and your eyes begin to scan the options hoping to spot something that resembles what you normally eat for breakfast. You wait your turn in line, politely nodding a good morning to those who are brave enough to make eye contact with you. Questions and thoughts swirl through your mind: How does this waffle maker work? What's the appropriate way to eat a bowl of cereal in public? Why are the juice cups so small? Is it even possible to make a waffle without making a mess? I wish I had the patience to make hard boiled eggs at home. Why are these plates so thin? I should get one of these juice machines at my house. Why are these little packs of butter always so hard?
As you work through your questions and the awkwardness of these moments you make your way back to your corner table and you begin to notice the faces of those you are sharing this moment with. From the outside looking in, it's an eclectic group from a wide variety of backgrounds. The skin tones run the gamut. Their purposes in being here are equally as wide. A mom and dad with kids in tow on their way to a much needed vacation. An older couple, perhaps traveling to see their grown children. A family in town for a kid's sports tournament. A few friends out for a weekend adventure.
Their stories vary as well. Some are well off financially and some struggle. Some feel accomplished and some live with a constant feeling of inadequacy. Some woke up this morning with a fresh perspective and others woke up dreading the thought of another hopeless day.
It's a strange mix of people at these breakfasts. Different stories, different backgrounds, different struggles. What's interesting is that regardless of the differences, when you walk into that breakfast room you are just like everyone else. You are a traveler in search of a meal. The hotel breakfast table is the great equalizer. When you enter the hotel breakfast room the size of your paycheck no longer matters. Your background no longer matters. Your skin tone no longer matters. You are like everyone else in the room. You're hungry and you want breakfast.
As I sat around the hotel breakfast table for the last time this summer and studied the faces of those around me I was struck by the outward differences that were obvious. I, like most other people have learned to categorize people into groups:
However, I've recently been challenged to redefine my categories. I heard someone say, "There are only two groups of people in the world, those who know Jesus and those who do not." As a Christ follower I am called to become an ambassador for the cause of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:20 on Bible Gateway says, "So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
In much the same way that the hotel breakfast is the great equalizer, there is another great equalizer coming down the road for each of us. A time when the size of our paychecks, our backgrounds, our upbringing, our status or anything else won't matter. The only thing that will matter at that moment is whether or not we have claimed the name of Jesus as our forgiveness. My prayer for me and for you is that we would be able to drop the worldly categories and see people as God sees them. My hope is that you and I as Christ followers would be able to stand boldly for the name of Jesus and become agents of change in a strange land. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.