On Sundays, most Christians take some time to focus on God and learn from the Bible with others. While this is encouraged and important, sometimes it’s good to be reminded that beyond attending church and holding certain beliefs, we’re called to follow someone. That someone is Jesus.
But what does following Jesus look like? I believe it starts with observing and studying His life with the intent to arrange our own lives to look more like His. Not just a little more like His, but as much like His as possible in the short time we have on this earth. Jesus did, after all, say in John 14:6, “I am the way…”
Here’s the point: the call to faith in Jesus (which is a work of the Holy Spirit) is calling us from the way we are currently going, and to a new way—the Jesus way. A complete paradigm shift is taking place and the object of our worship is shifting from the creation to the Creator.
We all have a sense from birth that we are created for a purpose, and we relentlessly pursue the fulfillment of that purpose in everything we do. Before we meet Jesus, we try to fill it with created things like wealth, security, comfort, power, or fame—to name a few. After we meet Jesus, we realize that our true purpose is to seek to know and love Him and to make Him known to others. The more we know Jesus, the more we understand His way—the way He created the world to work. The way that will ultimately fulfill that sense of purpose we all long for. Sounds simple, right? So why isn’t it?
Remember how Jesus is calling us from our old way into a new way? Well, it turns out that the old way has a will of its own and it’s going to fight like mad to keep your business. What’s more, the old way is as sophisticated as it has ever been at diverting our attention away from the new way. And our enemy the Devil is the one leading the charge for the old way, and on his side are all our old-way habits that we tend to default to when things get tough. John Ortberg once wrote, “Habits eat willpower for breakfast,” and he was right. I think Jesus understood this well. When He called His disciples, it was with the simple invitation to “follow Me.” His expectation with this invite was that they would immediately leave what they were currently doing to follow Him and observe (and learn) what He was doing.
The old way has a will of its own and it’s going to fight like mad to keep your business.
Those who became Christ’s disciples left family, career, possessions, and comfort with no hesitation in order to follow Him. They recognized the better thing. Those who preferred to maintain their ties to the world—the old way—did not become His disciples. Jesus knew that His disciples needed to learn new habits and that walking with Him and observing His habits for a few years was the best way to help them recalibrate to the new way. They were able to observe the rhythms of His life, the things that were important to Him, and how He spent His time. They observed in His life the importance of prayer, solitude, fellowship, and the art of always being present, not in a hurry. They continually witnessed the depth of His love for broken and hurting people and beheld the power of that love to transform lives.
Thanks to the Gospel writers, we have four accounts of Jesus’ way to form our new habits around. But His ways are as counterintuitive and countercultural now as they were then. Because of this, we have to seek Him daily, not just on Sunday, so we can understand the depth of His love and the beautiful life He has called us into.
His ways are as counterintuitive and countercultural now as they were then.
I have to ask myself every morning whether or not I will surrender to the call to follow Jesus today. And some days I answer incorrectly. But the good news is the body of believers here at SBC exists for the very purpose of providing a community of brothers and sisters to encourage you and me in our daily pursuit of Jesus. But the church can only do its job if we engage with it.
One of the downsides to being in a large church like SBC is that we have the option to just show up every Sunday and worship for 15 minutes, listen to a sermon, and head back out into the world for another week. In doing so, we miss out on the power that Christian community can put behind our pursuit of a transforming relationship with Jesus.
Becoming part of a smaller community of believers through our Groups, Women’s, Men’s, or Marriage ministries can provide life-giving support to our pursuit of Jesus. He didn’t mean for us to walk alone as His followers, and He certainly didn’t intend for our faith to be limited to a quick, clean Sunday service. So, when Jesus beckons you daily to come and follow Him, are you willing to follow Him beyond Sunday?