We are saved by Christ. We then grow in Christ. But as a believer, we are called to follow Christ. Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me (John 12:26). My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me (John 10:27). Jesus called out to them “Come follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people. Following Christ simply means to obey God’s word and do what it says or else we are fooling ourselves (James 1:22). Following Christ also means to live how Christ lived. As believers we should be honored to do so but we must also understand that God asks us to follow His example in Jesus. We are going to break down what it means to truly follow Christ.
"Following Christ isn't something that can be done half-heartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are."- Francis Chan
Submitting to Christ takes humility and intent
To follow Christ we must humble ourselves before the Lord. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up (James 4:10). The reason we must humble ourselves is because God opposes the proud (James 4:6). Being proud is not a trait that God approves of because to properly guide and lead us we must personally know that we need guidance. If we know that we’ve got it all under control there is no need for God and to follow Christ, you must be ready to be led, not lead. Being humble before God is how we properly submit to Him. Submit yourselves, then to God (James 4:7a).
The second point in submitting to Christ is having intent. Being intentional about following Christ takes action on our part. It is not just a matter of attending church on Sundays or reading our bible daily, but deliberate action, or doing. Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (James 1:22). The verb in all of this is “do” which is an action word that we can all relate with. If your spouse or landlord asked you to cut the grass, you might talk about it all week, saying that you are going to do it, but you don’t fulfill what you were asked to do until it is “done”.
God’s word says “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (James 1:23). In other translations it says “…or else you are fooling yourselves.” We are to follow Christ with intention meaning learning about God’s word and continuing in it. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do. (James 4:25).
Don’t take following Christ lightly
“And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money to finish it? They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’” (Luke 14:27-30). There are two points to make with this passage and it shouldn’t be taken lightly when it comes to following Christ. God wants us to be His disciples (dedicated follower of Christ) and He wants us to know what we are getting ourselves into. If you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27). Carrying your cross refers to dealing with your own burdens that will ultimately kill you (sin) and bring them to God and walk with Him. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23).
The second point is counting the cost of following Jesus. You must remember that Jesus died on the cross for all of humanities sin to be reunited with our heavenly Father. Emphasize the word “died”, the ultimate suffering. Jesus informs those who declare that they want to follow Him in Luke 9:57-62. “…a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Talk about difficulty and suffering, Jesus didn’t have a place to sleep, yet we complain when the wifi goes down. This is a representation that being a follower of Christ is not going to be easy. What we consider important, He considers not important when it comes proclaiming the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:60)
It’s an honor to follow Christ
Yes, we are instructed to count the cost but one thing that is amazing to think about is Jesus is calling out to US to follow Him. Celebrities are not even close to being as a great as Jesus, but if you have an idol that you’ve looked up to, you would read their books, attend their seminars just to hear what they have to say for your benefit. Yet not one of them would walk out into the crowd of thousands and say “follow me”. You would be honored if your idol called you to follow them yet Jesus is doing just that. To take it a step further, our Father promises to honor anyone who is following Christ (John 12:26). Following Christ is a lot to take in but with humility, intent, and sacrifice, we can be comforted by the presence of the Lord as Jesus leads us to be disciples for the kingdom of God through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us upon accepting Christ. Be honored to follow Christ, and be ready, and it starts with prayer.
- To follow Christ we must give our burdens to God (take up our cross). Write down at least one burden that you can give to God and confess it to Him in prayer with the intent to let Him keep it.
Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for your omnipresence and your word. I ask that you help me recognize my cross and bring it to You as I embark this journey of following Christ. Empty me of all of my sin and any other burden that is taking place of your Holy Spirit. I understand it is a tall order to be a follower of Christ but I am ready and want to take the necessary steps to becoming a disciple for Christ. Show me the way as I follow you with humility, intent, and sacrifice. I wholeheartedly accept this call if this is in your will. Lord I thank you for your love, peace, patience, guidance, grace, and mercy and will rest in these promises every day of my life. I pray all of these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.