Following God’s voice is better than following all the voices of the world.
Whom are you following?
Fifteen years ago, the answer to this question would be drastically different than what it is now. Today, “following” others and “having your own following” are commonplace among users of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. And who you follow can tell a lot about your personality and interests. Your targeted ads can be so spot on that you feel like they are reading your thoughts at times. Being an influencer is an actual job that can pay for bills and even give you celebrity status with the right following.
More recently, social media has become your voice, showing what you stand for and support. I have read some influencers get torn apart, make apologies, and even change their businesses all based on what their followers want them to believe and favor. I’ve also seen them get shamed for not openly supporting all the current agendas that the world declares should be followed.
I wonder what it would be like if Noah, Ruth, and Paul were on social media.
What would people think of @noaharkbuilder when he warned them of the coming flood? Do you think the comments on his ark progress pictures were responses like, “Way to go!” and “You’re so talented!”? I doubt it! Perhaps something more like, “Hey, stupid, why build a boat so far away from water?” I am sure there was a lot of unfollowing happening and people declaring, “What a joke! God judging us? Not going to happen,” or “How dare you judge me for what I believe! Who are you to say that God is going to destroy me!”
Yet despite what other people thought, God was pleased with Noah. He remained with Noah among the chaos. When the ark was finished, God closed the door to the ark. He stayed with Noah during the year-long float. Then he made his covenant with Noah under a rainbow (Genesis 6:1–9:17).
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
How about @ruthgatherssheaves? Ruth was widowed and left Moab with her also-widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. Times were tough, and she and Naomi had no means to provide for their very basic needs. Yet Ruth decided to remain with her mother-in-law when it would have been much easier to go back to her homeland, her previous gods, and an easier life. She chose to follow the way of the true God and stay with Naomi to help care for her.
Her following was sure to encourage her in the opposite direction. “Now is the time for some me time, Ruth. Take time for yourself. This isn’t the time to be worrying and caring for others.” “Get serious, Ruth. Get married again. There are plenty of good men here.”
But Ruth did not return. She told Naomi, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried” (Ruth 1:16,17).
What about @saulnowpaul? His following was sure to be in an uproar as he took a full 180-degree turn from persecuting the Christians to becoming persecuted himself. Some might have posted negative comments: “He was stoned and left for dead. That’s where he should have stayed,” or “He ruined our businesses in Ephesus with all his attacks on our goddess Diana.”
Paul remained a follower of Jesus. “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
It seems as if it is getting more and more difficult to say and do the right things. Sometimes we have to take a step back and remember what we truly do believe because of so much that is on social media, on the news, and in the world around us. We can get tricked into believing something is good and right, when in fact the world just wants us to follow another way.
But this isn’t new. Jesus himself warned the disciples of this before he sent them out to proclaim the news about him: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witness to them and to the Gentiles. . . . You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:16-18,22).
There are countless other examples in the Bible of people believing and doing the right thing when it was difficult and uncomfortable or even nearly impossible: Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, Job, Mary and Joseph, John, and the disciples, to name a few. Through these examples, we can find encouragement to continue our walk with Christ when it’s not what the world would do and when the world posts negative and cruel responses to our faith. When we face persecution for what we believe, we can find comfort in the stories of the Bible and learn from our forefathers’ experiences.
Jesus invites us, “Come, follow me” (Matthew 4:19). We can do so with confidence! “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
This article is adapted and reprinted with permission from holyhenhouse.com.
Author: Rebecca Schermerhorn
Volume 107, Number 12
Issue: December 2020