Post for teens – Who are you following?
What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘follow’? The dictionary says that ‘to follow’ is ‘to go or come after.’ I suspect, however, that as teens and young people, you’re more likely to associate it with forms of social media like Snapchat and Instagram!
While I was researching for this post, I came across an article which listed celebrities who had the largest number of Instagram followers in 2017. Singers, reality TV personalities, and sports stars all made the list. At the top was the actress and singer Selena Gomez… with a cool 130 million followers! To put this into context, 130 million people is almost the whole population of Mexico! And for reference, the UK’s population is 66.5 million. Northern Ireland has a minuscule 1.8 million.
It’s big business! The concept of following and followers is what fuels all forms of social media . For ordinary people like you and me, it’s never been easier to keep up with inside information on the lives of thousands of people – just one click and you will receive a regular stream of updates, from the noteworthy to the mundane, posted by everyone from your best friend to A-list celebrities.
Did you know the Bible talks a lot about following? Look it up in a concordance or Bible app! You will find people who made choices about who to follow. Some made bad choices, like those who followed Absalom. Absalom was quite a celebrity in his day – he had striking good looks, a great head of hair, and a charismatic personality. However, he was a rebel who tried to usurp the throne from his father, King David. He didn’t end well. Think carefully about the celebrities you follow on social media – they may be attractive in many ways, but what sort of lives are they living, and what type of an example are they to others? Many of them, sadly, like Absalom, are heading to a disastrous end.
So who should we follow? If you search ‘follow’, as I suggest, you will note over and over again the words, ‘Follow Me,’ spoken by none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He spoke them to Simon Peter and Andrew, to Levi, to a ‘certain scribe’, and to a rich young man. It’s important to remember that we cannot follow Him without trusting Him. People try to follow His steps, but this is only possible when, having realised our sinfulness and need of a Saviour, we trust Him to save us. Then, as a Christian, we must follow Him each day. Imagine if we spent as much time observing the life of the Lord Jesus Christ as many do their favourite celebrity. The more we observe, the more we learn, and the more we become like that person. So, spend time in the Bible, reading about the Lord Jesus and following Him.
There are also characteristics that we should follow. The list is long, but it includes things like love, peace, righteousness, godliness, faith, patience, meekness and holiness. Take just one of these words and look it up. See what it means, and think about how you can apply this in your life. Maybe it will mean biting your tongue rather than getting involved in an argument, or making the right choice when your friends want to do something which you know is wrong. Maybe even unfollowing some of those celebrities we mentioned a few paragraphs ago!
And, before I finish, one more question. Who is following you? You might think that it doesn’t matter, that no one really will be influenced by you. Never forget that there’s always someone looking on, maybe a younger brother or sister, someone in your class you barely take note of, maybe a follower on Snapchat. What you do, say or post might just have an impact on that person – for good, or bad. Be careful! The apostle Paul could say to the Corinthians, ‘Be…followers of me,’ or as other translations give, ‘be imitators of me’. Could we say that? Of course, the only reason Paul could say this was because, as he points out, he was a follower of Christ. The only way we will be a good example to others, someone who can be followed, is if we are following the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, next time you lift your phone to check Instagram, think about what the Bible has to say about following. My prayer is that you will follow that which is right, and that God will be praised and glorified by your life.
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