Have you noticed that we tend to talk about Jesus like He’s still here? While He was on earth, He called a group of disciples to follow Him so they could learn to be like Him. We call our lifelong process of spiritual growth “discipleship” and say Jesus also calls us to follow Him today. There’s just one problem – He isn’t here anymore. After rising from the dead, He appears to His disciples for forty days and ascends into heaven where He sits at the right hand of God (Acts 1:1-11; 2:32-33; Heb. 1:3). So how can we follow someone who isn’t here?
Did you ever play “follow the leader”? You form a line and follow the first person, doing what they do and going where they go. Now, did you ever play “follow the leader” without a leader? It doesn’t make much sense, does it? As Christians we commit to following Jesus our leader “wherever He may go” without realizing that He isn’t here anymore to walk ahead of us! So how do we follow Him when He isn’t here anymore?
Jesus’ disciples ask themselves the same question. He says He is going to leave them, and they don’t know how to follow Him after He’s gone! He promises to give them the Holy Spirit who will help them remember and obey what He said (John 14:15-27). This promise isn’t just for the disciples. Peter says anyone who will “repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ…will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). When you trust in Jesus, resolve to live His way instead of your way, and identify yourself with Him, He puts His Spirit in you!
After Jesus is gone, the Bible doesn’t tell us to follow Him. Instead, it tells us to walk in step with the Spirit. Paul orders us to “live by the Spirit” and reasons, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16, 25). Jesus isn’t here to walk in front of us, but His Spirit is within us to guide each of our steps. John says, “Whoever claims to live in God must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). How can I “walk as Jesus did”? After all, I don’t live in the same time and place that He lived. I don’t face the same people and situations that He faced. The only thing we have in common is that we’re both human!
To “walk as Jesus did” means to live my life the way Jesus would if He was me. How? By relying on the Holy Spirit to guide me and taking every step of every day in obedience to Him. Even though Jesus isn’t here anymore, we follow Him as we live our lives the way He would by relying upon and obeying the Holy Spirit.
How can you know how Jesus would live your life if He was you? How do you walk in step with the Spirit? First, be aware of the Holy Spirit. Know that He lives in you every moment of every day. Second, make yourself available to the Holy Spirit. Give Him access into your life – read the Bible, pray, go to church, confess your sins, get advice from other Christians. Third, allow the Holy Spirit to change you. Let Him make you more like Jesus in every area of your life. Then you will be able to say, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).