Going Beyond Believing to Following

Christians believe in Jesus.  There’s a lot we believe about Jesus.  We believe that Jesus is God Incarnate, the Son of God and Son of Man, the Messiah/Christ, the Lord and Savior, and so forth.  The picture to the left captures what Christians believe about Jesus.  Our believe about Jesus also means we believe in Jesus, that we believe he is the one in whom we live and experience the promise of salvation.

I’m all for believing in Jesus and having right beliefs about Jesus.  But… We are not just called to believe in Jesus.  We are also called to follow Jesus.  Read any of the four Gospels and there is not any way to get around this.  All three of the Synoptic Gospels inform us that the stakes are high and we have a choice to make.  We read in Mark 8:34-38:

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

You can also read Matthew 16:24-27 (which also has Jesus saying that the Son of Man “will reward each person according to what they have done.”) and Luke 9:23-26.

So it sure sounds like Jesus was pretty serious about those who believe in him also following him no matter the cost.  In his book Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul?, J.R. Daniel Kirk offers this call and choice:

When people are called to follow Jesus, he calls them to a new way of life.  As we read through the Gospel of Mark, we discover that the call to follow Jesus is an invitation to participate in Jesus’ own mission of inaugurating the kingdom of God.  People’s lives are transformed – and they are called, sent, or driven to do things they would never have done before.  But those who will not answer this costly summons find themselves standing, dangerously, against the rushing tide of the coming reign of God.  (p. 74)

There’s a lot more to be said on what it means to follow Jesus (that ought to be obvious).

For now I would just like to end this post by acknowledging that following Jesus is not always easy.  In fact, it’s rarely easy and when it does start seeming to be easy is when we should probably start getting concerned.  So with the acknowledgment that following Jesus is not easy, we need to forge relationships where we can talk and learn about it more, challenge each other to be better followers, and pray for each other that we may follow Jesus in faith with conviction, courage, and wisdom.

2 responses to “Going Beyond Believing to Following

  1. Rex,

    Transformation seems to be the key. I see many people who profess Jesus, even accept him as Savior (through baptism or saying a prayer, or however they are taught to accept Him) and are not changed. If one where to be able to sum up the message of the Bible in one word, that word would be change. We are to change each and everyday to become more like Jesus. I like to use verbs when describing my relationship with Jesus. Following Him is more descriptive than the word Christian.
    Have a grace-filled day!

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