Who you followin'?

Influence is big business. In a digital age, when information (and misinformation) travels at the speed of a mouse click, people and ideas that can spark interest, generate buzz, and gain a following are a valuable commodity. Don't believe me? Check out Brandwatch, a company built on watching social media and search engine trends and developing strategies for managing the online conversation for your business or cause (https://www.brandwatch.com/).

If I saw it on the internet, it must be true, right? Maybe not. When I checked today, the first two articles for online discussions that are trending hot were related to a question of whether dinosaurs ever existed and a debate over whether the earth is flat. So what does that tell us? (1) People are looking for something or someone to follow. (2) A lot of them are willing to follow some pretty strange stuff and line up their wagon behind some "thought leaders" who are mostly just winging it.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.... -2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV)

I'm not against technology - I've made a living in data-related fields for most of my life. Nor am I against thoughtful people asking good questions and advancing ideas that have merit, thus influencing conversations and attitudes. But I do have a strong bias toward seeing such influence informed by truth.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. -Luke 6:45 (NIV)

That brings us to the idea of discipleship. Big thanks to Chris Petersen, who shared some thoughts on the topic this week. Here are some of the "big ideas" Chris presented:

  • A disciple is a follower - Matthew 4:18-24

  • A disciple is a student - Matthew 11:28-29

  • A disciple is a child - Ephesians 5:1

  • A disciple is a servant - Luke 6:46

  • A disciple is a friend - John 15:15-16

  • Discipleship shows - Acts 4:13

A disciple is one who follows another person and submits himself to the teaching of that leader. Who are you following? Who's following you? Where are you leading them?

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.  -John 1:35-42 (NIV)

Scott Thompson