Following Jesus is not a decision to be taken lightly. I honestly don’t remember the day that I decided to follow Jesus. I was just a kid and while there have been a lot of moments of up and down (and quite frankly sideways, diagonal and spinning in place) I’ve always been following Him. In my many years of this journey I’ve seen a lot of people give their lives over to following Jesus and while I rejoice at their decision I also think to myself, ‘they have no idea what they’re getting into’. So I want to share with you a few things that you may not have heard about following Jesus.
- It’s hard – That’s right, it’s hard, very hard. You just went from being on the home team of this planet to being a member of the visiting team. For followers of Jesus this world is not our home, 1 Peter 2:11 (MSG) says this,
“Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it.”
When people find out that you are a follower of Christ you are viewed differently. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it’s not. One word that is thrown around a lot in describing Christians is hypocrite. Let me be the first to say that following Christ does not instantly make you perfect. The definition of hypocrite is: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. This battle has been going on for all of history. Paul even talked about it in Romans 7 where he stated that he did what he didn’t want to do but what he wanted to do he didn’t do (did you follow that?). It is hard. Until we get to heaven we will constantly be battling the part of us that wants to sin and the part of us that wants to follow Christ.
While the world expects us to be perfect God does not. We are going to mess up – ever read Romans 3:23? It tells us that ALL of sinned and fallen short. Our failures are not a shock to God. It’s what we do with those failures that paralyze or propel us. Admitting you screwed up is HARD, facing the consequences of those failures is HARD. Making the choice every day to keep growing in Christ is HARD. But thank God for grace. He doesn’t ask us to do this alone, He is with us every step of the way. His grace, the power within us to walk it out, is endless. He will never walk away from us declaring that we’re just to difficult to work with. So while following Christ is hard, we never do it alone.
2. It’s work – I know what you’re thinking, we aren’t saved by what we do but by what Christ has done. And you’re 100% right, there is not a single thing we can do to earn God’s love, grace or forgiveness besides ask for it. We do not earn anything through works, but following Jesus does take work. The definition of work is: activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. The result we’re aiming for is intimacy with God and that takes work. Like any other relationship you have, it takes an investment of time and energy to get to know Jesus. If my husband and I never spent any more time together after we met do you think we’d be married today? Of course not. So how do you get to know Jesus?
You have to spend time with Him. Read the Word, pray, listen to teachings, attend a good church and surround yourself with others who know Him. And I’m going to clue you in to something, getting to know someone you can’t see or audibly hear is infinitely more difficult than doing it with someone who is physically present with you! It takes time to learn how to recognize His voice and know His heart. It is an investment, but one where you will reap infinitely more than you ever invest.
3. It’s fun – Some people hesitate to follow Jesus because they think they have to stop having fun to do so. I’ll be honest, the things that I once called fun I no longer see that way, but that doesn’t mean my life is a dud. In my many, many years of following Jesus I’ve learned that He has a sense of humor and that He is the source of all joy. When I was a kid I thought that playing with Care Bears and My Little Pony all day were fun. Then I got a little older and video games became the new fun. In high school being a part of drama was the most fun I could possibly have. As a young adult hitting bars and drinking until I could barely remember where I was was fun. Now as a mom, being in my pjs by 8:00 on a Friday night with nowhere to be and no one to impress is my idea of fun. What we think is fun is always changing.
Honestly, God is always sending us drops of joy and fun. Just the other day as I was driving to work I looked up in the sky and I swear to you there was a huge face smiling at me. The clouds had formed in such a way that they were smiling down on me. I was covered with chills and filled with laughter, God had sent me a message, and a fun one at that. See, when you follow Jesus you have the source of all joy dwelling inside of you. When you follow Jesus every day is an adventure and within those adventures, between the hardships and the work there is bound to be a lot of fun.
Whether you’ve been following Jesus for years, just started or haven’t fully decided I pray that you are encouraged to know that if you’re feeling overwhelmed that’s normal. Even though the decision to be a Christ follower is not a guarantee to make your life easy, I can promise you it is worth it. If you’ll be honest with God, spend time with Him and allow Him access to your heart and life you will find that this journey is amazing.
Journeying with you,