What Does it look like to Follow Jesus?
Jesus is known by many people as one of the most influential people in History. To illustrate this, the Bible, which gives the historical account of Jesus, is the most sold book in history. It has sold more than 5 billion copies, according to Guinness Book of World Records.
The next best-selling book is Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien with 150 Million copies sold.
History points to the importance of Jesus for so many more reasons than just the number of Bibles sold, but what does it mean to actually follow Him?
Today, I am going to give the top four ways Jesus Himself gave for how to follow Him.
Jesus leaves it up to us to choose to follow Him, but He doesn’t give room for how to follow Him.
The order of this blog doesn’t mean one point is more important than the other. Jesus says they are all important when following Him. That being said, #4 sets up the degree by which Jesus expects us to follow Him, so don’t tune out.
1. Being Loved by Jesus is EASY
Christians have gotten this wrong for centuries. I have gotten this wrong many, many times in my own life. Jesus doesn’t want us to rely on our own strength and rituals to gain His love. He wants us to rely on how He already feels about us.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:29-30,
“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Jesus wants us to find peace in Him in all circumstances. He wants us to know that we are not alone, no matter what we are going through. Yes, He wants us to be all-in followers of Him, but that does not mean running ourselves into the ground to impress Him.
Jesus already loves us before we choose to follow Him. Nothing you can do will make Jesus’ infinite love for you grow and nothing you have done can make it diminish.
When you choose to follow Jesus, you must reject the notion that you gained that relationship via anything you have done. You get to be adopted as a child of God because Jesus made that possible when He died for you.
This is called grace.
Paul says it this way,
“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” (Galatians 2:21)
Grace is easy because we don’t have to do anything to earn it!
2. Jesus Wants Us to Follow ONLY Him
Jesus did not leave room in His teaching for alternate ways to be in relationship with our Creator, God. Jesus gave one answer and He says it clearly in John 14:6.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Jesus said there is only one way to know God and to have a relationship with Him. That path only can be found in Jesus Himself. Furthermore, Jesus says there are many paths that lead away from God.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
You might be thinking, “that seems kind of harsh…”
Yeah, it kind of is, but that’s why Christians are called to share about Jesus so no one will be lost.
Jesus leaves no room for following any other path to God, so if you choose to follow Him, He expects you to go all-in.
3. Jesus Wants us to Shift our Focus.
Remember when you got your first smart phone? I do. It was the fantastic, top-of-the-line iPhone 4s.
I loved it.
Until I didn’t. . . then I loved my new, state-of-the-art iPhone 6. It was the BEST! And then it wasn’t. . .
This life can be filled with so many things. You can choose to focus on your career, your family, your hobby, your comfort, your investments, etc. Jesus doesn’t say these things are bad. He just says they shouldn’t be your life’s focus.
In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus says,
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Jesus wants the treasure of our hearts to be Him. Jesus sees better than we do, and He sees how often we invest our lives in things that will become obsolete.
You may not see this right now, but that promotion you worked so hard for isn’t going to satisfy you. Nothing will except a relationship with Jesus. That’s the only thing that will last.
4. Following Jesus is HARD
Wait… Didn’t you just say that following Jesus is easy?
Nope. I said being loved by Jesus is easy. He always has loved you, and you can’t change that.
Following Jesus, though, means suffering and giving up everything so others might know the same love you now know.
Let’s be omega clear. Suffering and giving up everything for Jesus is not a way to earn His love or salvation. I need to repeat this over and over again because it so easy to get confused.
Following Jesus is a choice He calls us all to make as we discover the extraordinary love He has for us. We gain a passion for following Him that can only be fulfilled in loving others just like Jesus loved us.
In Luke 9:23, Jesus described following Him like this,
“If anyone wants to follow Me, he must give up himself and his own desires. He must take up his cross every day and follow Me.”
This is a ridiculously hard ask.
Let’s break that down to see why.
First, Jesus again gives the option to follow Him by saying, “If anyone…”
Next, Jesus says a true follower has to give up his own desires. You want a new phone? You want to make a six-figure salary? You want the house with the white picket fence? Jesus doesn’t say you can’t have these things, but He does make it clear that you must be ready to give them up.
Are you ready to give it up if He asks?
Next, Jesus says we must take up our crosses daily. What in the world does that mean?
It basically boils down to: are you ready to suffer and die for Jesus?
The cross in Jesus’ day was one of the greatest symbols of public humiliation, torture, and death. To carry a cross meant you had been sentenced to cruel torture and death, and you were on your way to fulfill your sentence.
This is how Jesus wants people to follow Him, but, again, it is not for the sake of your own ticket to heaven.
Jesus calls us to follow Him this way so others might know the same love we have found in Jesus.
Are you passionately pursing Jesus?