What does it mean to follow Jesus? This is the question of all questions, isn’t it? In today’s world, we’re so inundated with messages—from social media, from our families, from books we read or things we watch on TV, from our classes, from films, from well-meaning people, from our pastors, from our friends, even from strangers—and we’re continually told how to act, to feel, to be.
Sometimes these messages are beautiful, encouraging, empowering. Sometimes they’re deflating and frustrating. And sometimes they’re in opposition: The world telling us that faith restricts us, the Bible telling us in Him we are freed. The world enticing us with promises of temporary pleasure, God’s word encouraging us to wait for, and trust in the unseen.
It’s so hard to know who we are, what we’re supposed to do, what direction we’re meant to go.
It’s so hard to make sense of our existence when it feels like there are so many unknowns. When a God is longing to protect us, but we can’t always feel His presence in our lives. When we have been given so many blessings, and yet continually try to tell ourselves that these things happen by chance, not by the faithfulness of our loving Father. When we believe, but then face brokenness and our minds become clouded with doubt.
We are told to have faith, to trust, to be Christians that live like Jesus, but sometimes it’s so hard to know what that means.
But the Bible shares this truth, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12). And maybe the answer is right in front of us.
Maybe following Jesus is not about always being secure or strong, not about always having the right answers or knowing what we’re doing or where we’re headed. Maybe following Jesus is not about living this spotless life (because we know that’s impossible), or having this divine understanding of what’s to come.
Maybe following Jesus is not about never doubting, but about understanding that we are imperfect humans and this will happen. Maybe following Jesus is not about knowing everything, but about closing our eyes and stepping forward in faith, embracing whatever comes because we know He is by our side.
Maybe following Jesus is learning to drown out the messages from the world and focusing on the one truth set before us—that we are loved by Him, and we are to love because of Him.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
— Romans 12:12
God’s word says this—that we should not let ourselves be tangled in the lies of this world, that we should not allow our hearts to be distracted from His beautiful truth, that we should feel confident in His promises to us, and that we should love.
And so our challenge is not to be ‘perfect’ Christians, not to find the answer to every question, not to always know what to say or never doubt our faith. Our challenge is not to know what’s happening at every turn and twist of our lives, or reach this place where nothing bad happens (because unfortunately, that’s not how life works).
Our challenge is not to strive for this ideal, but to embrace that we are human and messy. And to pour ourselves into the world as He has poured Himself into us.
Be a Christian who ‘does.’ That’s the goal. Not to stand on the sidelines, static and still. Not to watch as the world crumbles, as people hate, as disaster ravages cities, as depression breaks people down. Not to turn the other way as bullies pick on the kid in the hallway or your boss makes a racist remark to a coworker. Not to pass by when you see someone struggling on the side of the road or when you hear a cry for help from someone you don’t particularly like.
No, we’re not always going to know what to do or how to do it. No, we’re not always going to understand what God’s plan is, or what He hopes for our lives. No, we’re not going to be perfect.
But in our imperfection He creates beauty. In our lows, He makes light. In our brokenness, He brings healing. In our passion, He makes purpose.
So be a Christian who does. Who loves. Who gives. Who cares.
Be a Christian who outpours hope and encouragement to people who need it, who shares the truth as if it’s the most important words to ever leave one’s lips. Because it is.
Be a Christian who acknowledges every broken piece, but instead of holding back, uses that brokenness to build someone who is lost. Be a Christian who is fearless because following God is following truth.
“And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
— Ephesians 5:2
Be an active Christian. Not a timid Christian. Not a passive Christian. Not a perfect Christian. But one who loves with everything you have because that is how our Father first loved us.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? Not to always know what to do or where to go, not to understand God’s purpose and plan in every season, not to be spotless and beautiful and bright.
But to love. Fully. Fearlessly. And with everything we have.