What does it mean to follow Jesus?
Have you been wondering what it means to be a Christian? It can be confusing. There are a lot of churches and a lot of ideas that all sound a little different. Depending on who you ask, you might get a long-winded oration about how sinful you are and your need for repentance. Or you might get a feel-good story about being a good person and “all you need is love.” There are lots of great resources out there and some will be listed at the end of this article. But let’s try to break it down as simply as possible.
What is a Christian?
A Christian is someone who believes in Jesus Christ and follows his teachings. In other words, a Christian is a follower of Jesus.
How do I become a Christian?
Simply ask. Through prayer, you can tell God that you want to become a follower of Jesus. Once you have made that decision with God, you are a part of God’s family.
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10: 9)
If you struggle with talking to God, here’s a prayer you can use to focus your thoughts:
Dear God, I’m not perfect and I know that I need you. I want to stop living for things that aren’t good for me and live the better life that you want for me. Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for my actions, words and thoughts that aren’t pleasing to you. I want to base my life on your love for me. I want to be with you always and follow Jesus. I want to be your child. Thank you that you have already granted this prayer as I’m praying it and for being my loving Father from now on.
Resource: Coming Home, An Invitation to Join God's Family by Focus on the Family
Who is Jesus?
Jesus is fully God and fully man, God’s son and representative to man on earth. He was born to humanity so that he could fulfill God’s plan of rescuing us from the consequences of our sin. Jesus received our punishment, death and separation from God, so that we could be reconciled to God.
C.S Lewis, a well-known Christian author wrote of Jesus, “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17)
Why would I want to follow him?
God already loves your and wants a relationship with you. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Not only did Jesus rescue us from a future without God, but he also gives us himself in the form of the Holy Spirit. We are free to live a life of love, peace and joy, knowing that we are children of God, our future is assured, and that God is always with us.
Resource: Follow Jesus by BeliefNet.com
Grace = we don’t deserve it
God doesn’t have to forgive us. But he does. He even gave the ultimate sacrifice of coming to earth and paying the price of our sin so that he could. We don’t deserve it, but he did it anyway because he loves us. It’s a free gift and all we have to do is say “yes” to it.
Resource: What is Grace by ExploreGod.com
But I’m a good person
Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) We might try to be good people but we always fall short. A little lie to ourselves or others, envying or hating people, gossiping … they all come between us and God. Jesus, however, was sinless. Having no sin of his own made him fit to pay for ours. It’s a free gift and all we need to do is accept it and follow Jesus.
Faith and works
There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s love. He already loves us and wants us to be in his family!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
(We) know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
If you have decided that following Jesus is something that you’d like to do, something that you’d like to know more about or even something you just want to talk over, we are here for that! Please contact us and we’d love to discuss it with you, wherever you are, without judgement or agenda. Or, if you feel more comfortable with someone else, please contact them. Don’t give up on your questions! Here are a few other steps you can take:
- If you’ve decided to follow Jesus, tell someone you trust. It’s always helpful to have companions to celebrate with on this journey. You might know someone who has been a Christian for a while that can give you some tips about resources available in your area. Christianity isn't a solo faith.
- Go to church. We invite you to give our church a try, we’d love to have you! Or find a great church near you. Jesus and the church go hand in hand. Here are some tips for finding a church. The most important thing to remember is to not give up – finding a church that's a good fit for you can sometimes be challenging.
- Read your Bible. The Bible is God’s love letter to us. There are many resources including apps that will help you to read through the Bible and understand what you’re reading. If you need a place to start, you might try the book of Mark.
- Pray daily. Start talking to God like you would a friend!