I noticed a shift in politics during the last election cycle. To be honest, there were a lot of shifts. I didn’t really notice this one until close to the election. Maybe it had been there for quite a while, and I simply didn’t pay attention. Typically, I had heard people who talk about the candidate they support. A candidate would refer to his/her supporters. More often, I began to hear about candidates’ followers. It alarmed me. There is a big difference between supporting and following. Following isn’t a bad thing—unless it is misplaced.
As I began to mull over why the difference in terms bothered me, I realized the word following, to me, referred to an intentional devotion, a faith. Sure, I also follow people on social media. I follow people in terms of inviting them to influence my life, but I’m not all in. I’m still responsible to discern, applying wisdom. Following people should never be an all in (or all out) thing. But that’s what I was hearing—all in or all out, fully accepting without questioning or completely dismissing without engagement, because…if someone we admire says so, it is so?
There are non-negotiables. There is absolute truth. But that is God-based, not people-based. People can influence us without us being all in as a follower. We are misguided when we agree with someone in one (or more) area or share a value then expand that agreement and affirmation to every area, as if we are clones. We are also misguided when we disagree with someone in one (or more) area or reject a value then expand that disagreement to every area. It’s not all or nothing, except when it comes to spiritual matters. Even then, we are going to struggle, because we don’t have a completely clear perspective.
God is good to follow, not just support. Satan is not good to follow or support. But…we support what we shouldn’t. We get distracted and deceived. We choose poorly. We value poorly. You might be able to say, “But at least I don’t…” but someone else can say that very thing about you. There’s room to grow for every single one of us.
There is room not only to rid our lives of the bad we support and more completely follow well. We get to follow God. Supporting him seems silly, as if he needs our support, as if we could rubber stamp anything of his. We do this sometimes. We take a directive of his, and we stand firmly on that issue. But if we don’t stand for his way in his way, we might just be getting in others’ way, influencing their concept of God in some poor, even destructive, ways. When we follow God, it’s different. We try to step not only where he steps but how he steps and why he steps. We begin to realize there are innuendoes in how he carries things out because of his timing and purpose.
Personally, I think that’s pretty cool. I don’t want to just support him. I want to follow him, because he is the only one trustworthy enough to be followed. He is the only one worthy enough to be followed. He is the only one who has no ulterior motives in leading me. Know who you follow and who you support. Know every one of us makes choices in both areas every day. We get to adjust, and we should, as long as we’re humble enough to listen well.