Where He Leads Me I Will Follow – Rev. Talmage Skinner

What does it mean to follow Jesus? It starts with how we feel about other people. Do we recognize them as brothers and sisters?  Do we try to love them as God loves them? This is different from proclaiming that we love God or Jesus. An old story comes to mind about a little boy who wrote his name in some fresh cement and was caught in the act.  The man in charge was very hard on the boy.  Then his wife said to him “I thought you liked children.”  He replied, “I do. I like them in the abstract not in the concrete.”  Our expressions of love of God or Jesus are too often very much in the abstract while our neighbors are very much in the concrete. I have often said that it is far more important for us to love others as God loves them than for us to over-profess direct love of God. The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a story about following the leadership of YHWH out of Egypt, through the parting waters of the Sea, over the wilderness for a lifetime, into the Promised Land. As we make our way through the wilderness of our lives in this difficult time in the world, we need to keep our eye on our leader, this Jesus who is the Word made flesh. We are on a journey whether we want to be or not.  The question is not whether we are going or not, it is where are we going?  No, I do not mean the “here after.” I mean the concrete world around us now. We pray “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  There is no value in professing love of God while turning a blind eye to God’s children all around us. I do not want any talk of how great things are in heaven while we do harm to this planet that is our home. We also do not need the words of “what is the use, we can’t do anything, we just have to make our way through the mess.”  No, we need to fix things, to make it better. To do nothing or to give up is not acceptable. We need to be reminded that the role Jesus accepted for himself was Servant. He washed the feet of his followers and gave his life for all of us. He is still the “Word made flesh” and still dwells among us and would lead us in a great journey.

Very few of Methodists today know anything about the doctrine of Christian Perfection. One of the questions asked of persons who are about to be ordained is “Do you expect to be made perfect in this life?”  Many persons still misunderstand this and think it is about being free from sin. The truth is this is about the perfect love of God. Our goal should be to come to love others as God loves them. It has nothing to do with being free from sin and everything about being gracious as God is gracious. When we sing that little song, ”And they will know we are Christians by our love,” we are not singing about just how we love folks in our group, but how we love everyone else. Do others experience the love of God from us?

Talmage Boyd Skinner, Jr.

Chaplain Emeritus

Wofford College