What does it actually mean to follow Christ?
To follow Christ means to first recognize our need for a Savior. The first time I realized this, I was 18 years old, and I finally understood that my sin was just as bad as everyone else’s sin (Romans 3:23). Even if we’ve only committed one sin, that sin is causing us to be separated from God because God is perfect and holy (Isaiah 59:2).
So, how do we reconnect with God after we’ve messed up?
The answer: Jesus Christ. It isn’t about what we can do, but about what God has already done for us. God gave us Jesus as the way to Himself.
In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV)
If we get back to God through Jesus, how do we get to Jesus in the first place?
The ever-popular verse to, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)
Then, Jesus goes on to say, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17 (NIV)
There is beautiful truth in these verses! Because of God’s great love for us, he gave us Jesus. He doesn’t want to condemn, but to save. God’s plan is to bring us back to himself when we’ve gone astray because being with God is the best place we can be. He is the source of life (John 1:1-4). He brings hope (Romans 8:24-25). He brings peace (Philippians 4:7). He is love! (1 John 4:8)
Jesus said that whoever believes in him will have eternal life.
But, what does it mean to believe?
As a child and younger teenager, I thought believing in Jesus just meant believing that he was real, that he existed. I didn’t realize it meant believing that he was who he said he was. I knew he was God’s Son, which meant that Jesus was God in human form, but didn’t quite understand the significance.
Now, I know that the reason Jesus’ sacrifice of dying on the cross is enough to pay for our sins so we can be back in a relationship with God is because a perfect sacrifice was needed. Jesus, being fully man and fully God, lived a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21). Essentially, in order for our sins to be forgiven, God had to sacrifice Himself. He did it all because He loved us.
Believing in Jesus Christ means having faith in His Word. Believing in Christ spurs us on to abandon our old ways and turn toward a new life.
We must first recognize that we have sinned and that our sin is separating us from God. We then repent of our sin. This means we confess our sins to God through prayer, turn away from that sin, and turn toward God. We then can rejoice and thank God for Christ’s completed work on the cross on our behalf. In that, we place our hope not in ourselves but in Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth for a very specific purpose because God loved each and every one of us. We then receive the Holy Spirit when we believe in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a deposit that guarantees our inheritance in Heaven (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Each person’s journey toward understanding the truth of what it means to follow Christ is different. Some of my friends understood their need for a savior at four years old, but others were grown adults with kids by the time they met the Lord. Wherever you are at, whether you know the Lord or not, please remember that God loves you and desires a relationship with you.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (NIV)
Seek the Lord and He will show up.
I’d love to talk with you more about what it means to follow Christ if you are interested in what this means. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time! I read and reply to every email.