Who are you following? A movie star? A rock star? A blogger? An amazing photographer? A best friend? Sometimes, all that following other people on the Internet does is fuel discontent and disillusionment. We see another friend get engaged and wonder, “Why not me?” Or another friend has 3 kids already and you can’t have children or you are waiting for Mr. Right, so that you can have those children. Or maybe your friends have photogenic pictures of the perfect family, while you do well to get your kids dressed and fed without them destroying the house. Or perhaps your favorite movie star has it altogether with designer clothes and an exciting life. Or your favorite musician is racking up awards and you can’t even get anyone to listen to your songs. Or maybe you write and write only to get rejected, while a famous blogger has thousands of followers. Maybe our problem isn’t who we are following, but how we respond to who we are following? Does what we are following draw us closer to Christ? Or does it distract us? Does it cause envy and comparisons that have no basis in reality? I would say no, yes, and yes.
We so often get consumed with comparisons and then envy what others have. Even Peter did this in John 21, “When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me (NIV). When I struggle with “Why Lord?” I’m trying to remember, “What is that to you? You must follow me.” My path isn’t someone else’s. He has plans for me, but they aren’t the same as my friends. My job is not to indulge my self-pity and selfishness, but to follow Jesus. While following celebrities, bloggers, and friends is all well and good, there’s Someone we need be following more seriously in our lives. As Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (NIV).
Another problem we have is living for the approval of others and desiring them to follow us. Like the Apostle Paul, I want to remember whose approval I’m supposed to be living for, “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, NIV). Being his servant means living to please HIM! Paul reminds the believers in Corinth of the dangers of comparison, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you” (2 Corinthians 10:12-13).
So, if you are where God has placed you and you are faithfully serving Him, don’t give up. God doesn’t require us to have perfect Instagram lives, impressive blogs, award-winning photos, perfect families, or even to be married. He does call us to boast not in ourselves, but in HIM!
This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NIV).