A true Christian following Jesus will have received a revelation of this scripture:
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: (1 Peter 2:21)
Following Jesus is simply following in His footsteps and not creating our own footsteps.
There are some believers who genuinely desire to serve God, preach the gospel, and see lives and communities transformed. But they think they do not have the opportunity given to them. They visualize themselves standing in the pulpit and preaching to several thousand or at least in their own church. They criticize and find fault with the church and the pastor’s sermons. They think they can do better and have a calling from God. But they never get the opportunity. They think their calling is not being recognized by the leaders of the church. Often, such people do have the required gift to serve God and do have a calling from God, and this is affirmed by some of their friends and relatives who prophecy over them and say things such as “You are anointed to be a preacher brother” or “I see you planting churches”, and some others even address them as “Pastor” and so on. Unfortunately, such words only make things worse because it raises false hopes, and the years and months go by with no opportunity still.
In such a situation, one of two things happen. Either you realize that it is pride that has kept you from serving God because God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble OR you lose faith and become bitter about Christian leaders and fellow believers. You will then lack love and become legalistic.
How do I know this? Because this was me. Fortunately, by God’s grace, I realized that it was my pride, and it broke me drawing me closer to Christ.
Often, this is because we have the wrong idea of what “following Jesus” really means. We think being a “pastor”, preaching every Sunday from a pulpit to hundreds and thousands of people, being somebody recognized on YouTube and other social media platforms, being a guest speaker at a conference, etc. is “following Jesus”. We think giving up a secular job in order to serve God full-time is following Jesus. We think a real Christ Follower must be someone popular, who has written a few books and who does nothing else but spends time preparing sermons, traveling around the world, and preaching to large congregations. The attention from a crowd and the lifestyle seems more appealing than the simple fulfillment of sharing the gospel with one person and seeing a transformation in that person’s life.
But following Jesus Christ in His footsteps looks a lot different.
Jesus spent more time with the lost, the poor and the rejected of the world. He was rejected Himself.
Look at the world around you. Statistics reveal that the vast majority of the lost world lives in poverty. It is a small minority that actually lives in affluence. The so-called “Megachurches” and the lifestyle of celebrity preachers that you aspire for yourself is the minority. Not to mention, the lostness of many such professing believers. The vast majority of the unreached and lost population in this world (for whom the Lord Jesus laid down His life) actually live in poverty. Multiplied millions live on less than 60 cents to a dollar a day. Jesus said “It is HARD” for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. “IT IS HARD”!!! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So why is it that many people want to make it “Hard” for themselves? Does that mean rich people cannot be following Christ? Of course not! A rich person is meant to live a simple life and use his or her wealth to get the gospel to the lost world. That is how one lays up treasures in heaven for themselves.
What does following Jesus involve?
Following Jesus involves dying to oneself, dying to worldliness, and living for just one goal in life, which is to put to death every lust of the flesh so that we can present our bodies as living sacrifices unto God and teach as many as we can to do the same.
Do you want to be following Christ? Do you want to really make your life significant? Do you want to really preach the gospel and see lives and communities transformed? Then know these things…
- Much of the lost world lives in abject poverty. Not all of it but the majority are poor. So don’t expect a megachurch with mega finances and a mega lifestyle. If the Lord prospers you, it’s for a reason; so that you can be a blessing to those in need. If Jesus were here on earth today, you would see Him ministering among the common people as He always did. You would not find Him in a 5-star hotel waiting for His turn to speak at a mega-conference or at a golf course trying to find new strategies for church growth.
- Be intentional. You cannot claim to be following Jesus and reaching out to the vast majority of the poor and unreached by going to church every Sunday, attending conferences year after year, volunteering at church, being loving and kind, and sharing Jesus with those at your workplace when you get an opportunity. That is all good practice and has its place, but you have to intentionally set aside some of God’s provision to you to do your OWN preaching. Sponsor a child, support a missionary you trust, start or support micro-enterprises, go yourselves, or do anything else that can make a difference, but be intentional. Your profession is your provision for your vision. Your job and your wages are God’s provision for you. Do you want to be following Christ? Then use your provision for the fulfillment of your vision. You don’t have to, but if you wish to follow Christ, then this is how it is to be done. Apostle Paul built tents for a living, but he used his provision for the vision God had placed in his heart and he ended up setting a fantastic example of following Christ. He said, “Follow me as I follow Christ”. 1 Cor 11:1
- It will take every single disciple of Christ to be intentional and not just missionaries and traveling evangelists or guest speakers invited to conferences. Can you imagine the result, if every single disciple of Christ intentionally set aside a portion of their income to do his or her own preaching…either by giving or by going? A call to reach the lost should be the mark of any true believer following Jesus Christ. It will take laying down our lust for luxuries and being willing to go without just so someone else less fortunate and lost can find the love of Christ. This should be the norm for every Christ Follower. This should be a distinguishing mark of a believer following Christ in comparison to a non-believer don’t you think?
So why are most believers “not” like this? It is because very few have understood the “value” and the “preciousness” of the gospel message. Do you realize that someone who hasn’t heard the gospel and dies, will perish in torment forever completely separated from God? Do you realize how fortunate you are to be saved? No! unfortunately, believers don’t understand the preciousness of the gospel.
When your faith in God is all about healing, miracles, your financial blessings, your comfort, your relationships, your spouse, your job, your prosperity…..then you probably are following someone pretending to be Christ. Because Christ’s footsteps look very different. He mingled with the ordinary people when He knew He would be rejected by the very people He was trying to reach. He embraced suffering because He knew He was not of this world after all. How about you? Do you know that you are not of this world either? He spent most of His time with the poor, with sinners and the rejected ones. He rebuked those who appeared to know everything and did nothing. He rebuked those who held their head high because of how much they knew or how popular they were. He rebuked those who thought they were somebody and went around thinking they were doing God’s will, whilst having no love towards the lost.
The success of a church is measured by the visible and tangible transformations in communities. Not by the size of crowds. We as Christians are being transformed into His likeness. We all believe that don’t we? But if we are being transformed into His likeness, shouldn’t we also be living as He did? Else…the transformation isn’t working.
A real Christ follower follows in Christ’s footsteps. We are truly blessed to have a beautiful church with awesome worship and great facilities to go to. Not many do in many parts of the world. Friends, do not be deceived into thinking that by the dazzling lights, music, smoke machines, and inspiring messages the people are being transformed. Spend time in His word. The Bible. Know Him for yourselves. Be a Christ-follower because that’s how you became a child of God. So, remain as one.
Following Jesus is a blessed life. There is no better way to live than that.