“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
(Luke’s Good News Story: Chapter 9:23)
Follow Jesus 101
A ton has been written about following Jesus. You can find all kinds of Bible studies, devotionals, inspirational quotes, and church curriculum that will help you learn how to follow Jesus. I’m not going to wax academic on you today, though. I want to get intensely personal and practical.
You and I are on a journey. Our journey begins the moment we take our first breath and ends (obviously) when we breathe our last. Your life is full of learning experiences, sensory experiences, spiritual experiences, physical experiences, relational experiences, and the list goes on. Life is one big experience. What you experience is unique to you in many respects.
No one else carries around your body with them. No one else houses your soul the way you do. No one has your role in your family the way you do. You are uniquely, unique.
Aside from your own life experiences, there is another element that you have likely had to deal with in your life. That element lies within the realm of religious or spiritual experience. Either way you spin it, religion or spirituality, you cannot deny that there is an otherworldly desire within the human heart. C.S. Lewis, a famous Christian academic, philosopher, and author pinned us all correctly when he said,
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
And so, here we are. Spiritual and Physical beings looking for spiritual answers in a physical world. We don’t really know where our soul and body meet. That is just simply a mystery. But we know that we have a soul. It is some kind of intangible knowledge that we have. Something draws us in and refuses to let us go. We are curious. We are adventurous. And we are ignorant.
We want to debate this, but the evidence is insurmountable. Somehow in the midst of our mystery, God enters our history. A man, claiming to be God, invades our world like some kind of alien. Wrapped in our skin, speaking in stories, living a normal poor man.s life, Jesus enters our history with a message to communicate through actions and words.
We kill him. Make no mistake…we want to believe Him. But His words are too difficult to believe. Nobody cares that much. Nobody sacrifices that much. Nobody loves that much. We’ve never seen it before and we’ve never seen it since. But our hearts are aching for more of this man’s presence ever since He left.
The voices and noise of the centuries has grown louder with the growth of many more man-made religious systems. Even the Christian system of priests and hierarchies, political power plays and manipulative pastors smacks of noise, false hopes, and broken religion. But even out of the ashes of His own institution, Jesus calls us not initially to church, not to allegiance to a preacher, not to become a member of a specific voting bloc… Jesus calls us to Himself.
- Jesus invites us to come. He knows we are weary from false hopes and disappointments, lies and adulterated versions of Him.
- Jesus invites us to come. He knows we want an easier road, a happier life, a fuller bank account, but He still calls us.
- Jesus invites us to come. He offers not an easy path but a significant one.
- Jesus invites us to come. He promises no health and prosperity here on earth.
- Jesus invites us to come. He extends hope that there is more that he can provide than the life we think we can provide for ourselves.
- Jesus invites us to come. To deny ourselves. To accept the burden of our own cross. To follow Him.
This is the first lesson in following Jesus: Come.
Drop it all.
What’s keeping you?