As Christians, we go by many names – Christians, saved, born-again….but, one of the most popular is Christ Followers. But, what does it mean to be a Christ follower? What does it mean to follow Jesus?
As I think about this question, my mind travels to the old church I grew up in, then to kids camp, then to youth camp, youth retreats, Christian College, and the many preachers and teachers I have heard over the years. I have beautiful memories. I really do. But, I am also met again with the same feelings of guilt and confusion that come with the memories. The reality is that the church, in some ways, has become very divided, not only by physical buildings, but by denominations, belief systems, world views, and sometimes misguided and made up theology.
Even the Bible itself was written by Jewish men guided in some way, by Jewish customs and traditions. For example, do you think it is really valid and true that a woman that does not cover her head while praying is a disgrace? (1 Corinthians 11:5-6) Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians and many other books of the New Testament, is someone I greatly admire because of his commitment to spreading the Good News, but this statement was written by Paul around 53 AD, not spoken by Jesus in 2018. Paul rightly believed that because of the tradition and culture of the time, this statement was Godly guidance (which it was at the time).
As the church has grown, more beliefs and traditions have emerged. One simple (and really irrelevant) belief really sticks out in my head. I remember being told “You need to take your hat off. We are in church, and you are disrespecting God by wearing that hat.” As a grown man, I can now see the silliness and irrelevance of this statement, but when I was young in my faith, the guilt brought on by this statement was very real. In all honesty, statements like this can develop a sense of grace earned rather that grace gifted and bought by our Good Father.
So, back to the question. How do you follow Jesus?
You are not a Christ follower unless you have daily quiet time. You are not a Christ follower unless you read your Bible every day. You are not a Christ follower if you don’t go to church every Sunday. False, false, and false. I apologize on behalf of all the misguided Christians misguiding you. Don’t get me wrong, prayer and reading the Bible every day are some of the best ways to develop and maintain a relationship with Jesus. One of my favorite verses is found in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus did not come to write a book of boring rules to follow. He came to be a sacrifice for you and I, so that we can have a way back to our creator; so that we once again, could live a full life with purpose and hope.
How do you follow Jesus? The first thing you need to do is very clear in scriptures. You have to believe. That’s it – Believe. In Jesus. In Jesus as the Son of God. Is believing enough? In my opinion, it is enough to live in eternity in God’s love because believing and having faith is all we need to be saved. We all fall short of the glory of God, and believing in His sacrifice is all He requires. None of us can earn our spot in heaven, no matter what anyone tells you.
The thing is, if you really believe that, we have something to be excited about! We now have a way back to our Father. We have the opportunity to have a connection and a relationship with our creator! The god who created the Universe! The god that breathed breath in your lungs! The god that sent His only son because of His love for you. If you were to ask Jesus, “How do I follow you?” I think he would say, “Follow me”. In other words, spend time with him, talk to him, tell him how much you love him and how thankful you are for what he did. Include him in every thought, every decision, and in every breath.
Follow by believing and falling more in love with him every day. That is the equation. That is the answer to your question, and that is how you live life to the full.