Some twenty centuries ago, Peter and his brother Andrew were the first to respond when they heard Jesus say, Come, follow me ... Since that day, millions have answered that same noble call to follow in his steps.
However, in todays Christian culture of shallow commitments and half-hearted discipleship, where many believers deem it their right to choose when, where and how far they will follow, unconditional obedience is often perceived as a legalistic and lifeless proposition. In his newest book, The Art of the Follower (summer 2013), Dag Heward-Mills, world-renowned pastor, author and evangelist, assures readers of the joys of unbridled pursuit of God and encourages them to follow from a sincere heart of gratitude for his great grace and love.
Our motivation for practicing the art of following must come not from feeble obligation, but from a deep awareness of Gods love for us, and our longing to love him back, to please him and to know him better, Heward-Mills said. That deep love for God was the impetus for my choice to leave a career as a medical doctor to follow him into full-time ministry. Sometimes I look around at the many lives that have been changed as a result of my decision and wonder, Would these people have ever come to know the Lord if I were a practicing doctor in a clinic somewhere?
We just may never know the far-reaching effects of our obedience, he added.
Art of the Follower offers not only essential motivation but also scriptural principles to succeed at following and even catching up with those ahead in the faith. With skillful artistry, Heward-Mills unfolds the lives of 11 of Gods champion followers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Nehemiah, Esther and Daniel providing a virtual training manual of right-here, right-now lessons on following God. Each of the selected biblical role models demonstrate the practices and passions of a person who is willing to give all they have for who and what they consider to be most important.
Many today have been taught by the church how to have a good life, how to be happy, how to raise good families, how to prosper, and how to be safe and secure. Few have been taught to give up their lives, to pay the price to follow, Heward-Mills said. It seems its becoming increasingly more difficult for Christians to forsake their own comfortableness to follow anybody or anything on a daily basis.
The haunting invitation to follow Jesus still goes forth today. My desire, Heward-Mills said, is for believers to bask daily in Gods marvelous grace and to more willingly follow Christ.