As of today, I have 315 followers on Twitter. (For the uninitiated, Twitter is a social media platform!) This is double what I had two years ago but substantially short of many; it would take some to catch- for example- Barack Obama who is currently on 112.1 million!!
I also follow 700 others; some are famous in their field, whether that be journalists, comedians, organisations, sportsmen and women (that’s most of them to be fair including the majority of the Ipswich Town FC playing staff) and of course the odd Rev or even Bishop. The mix is eclectic and I’m drawn to follow them for their opinions, sense of humour or relevance to my own life. Sometimes I’m challenged by what they say, sometimes I profoundly disagree with them, but a balance of opinions is good. I think the term ‘follower’ is somewhat misleading in that with most cases, the following I do is all virtual and will never result in face to face meetings or a physical accompaniment. There is no sense of a journeying together through the ups and downs of life but rather a vacuous method of communication with a very one-dimensional dialogue. Surely to ‘follow’ someone requires more depth, integrity and authenticity?
As a church at ABC, we’ve committed this year to a 2020 vision titled: One for the Road. A Year of Discipleship. This focus, I hope, will help us all to understand that journeying through life is not for lone rangers but is about being companions on the road as we seek to follow Jesus and help others to discover for the first time that Jesus is worth following. After all, didn’t Jesus himself choose 12 disciples to share his ministry with for three and a half years through all the joy and the sadness that ensued. He exemplified the ‘we’ of discipleship that must always trump the ‘me’, otherwise we have no support structure in place.
My faith is fundamental to who I am and I’m both pleased and privileged that I have friends with whom I can journey and, when the going gets tough, as it does and it will, their friendship proves it worth by their presence, their prayers and their perspective. That’s not to say that they won’t challenge me – they do! In fact, I’d go as far to say that I’d be concerned if they didn’t otherwise where would be the accountability in the relationships?
Most of all though, I’m thankful for that unseen companion who remains a constant at all times, even when I forget that he’s there, and that’s Jesus.