Believe in and Follow Jesus

3.25.19

Would you describe yourself as a Catholic or Protestant or Evangelical or Orthodox or Independent or other kind of Christian? There seem to be so many differences among Christians and those differences appear to be more important than the one thing we have in common—our belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. When we focus on our differences we can be sure that we’re captivated by the ego’s or the world’s point of view. If we’re arguing about who has the right beliefs, if we’re divisive or exclusive about our beliefs, then we are not acting like the Children of God. We are not part of the mind of Christ as Paul described our relationship to Christ or true followers of Jesus that He called us to be.

 

Don’t we all belong to the one church of Jesus Christ? Isn’t He the head of each and every denomination and of every Christian? Don’t we all believe in Him as the Messiah, as the Son of God? Then why do we argue about minor differences in worship and beliefs and take pride in having the “right” beliefs, feeling ourselves and those who share our beliefs saved?

 

Jesus taught his contemporaries and all who lived after Him to believe in him and to follow him. Twelve times He talked about believing to his disciples and to the crowds, to Jairus, the father of the girl who was sick and died, to his opponents, to Martha, as He prayed for Lazarus, to the Jews and finally to Thomas. And nineteen times He said, “Follow me”—to Simon Peter and Andrew, to the man who wanted to bury his father first, to Matthew the tax collector, to his 12 disciples, to the rich young man, to Levi the tax collector, to the large crowds, to a certain ruler, to Philip, to the Jews in the Temple, to the Greeks, to Peter.

 

Believe in me; follow me.

 

Let’s look at the word “believe.” In the ancient Greek, believe is “pisteuo” which means “to believe, put one’s faith in, trust, with an implication that actions based on that trust may follow, entrust, entrusted with…[also] entrust, putting faith, rely on…”[1] All the New Testament uses of the word believe refer to this Greek word. To believe, then, means to believe in, to trust, to be entrusted with, to then have our actions follow those beliefs. It is not enough to just believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Our actions must follow, must reflect those beliefs.

 

And that’s where the concept of following Jesus comes in.[2] We are to walk in His footsteps, partner with him to be his disciple, not to just believe in Him. We are to seek to engage in every way, in every part of our lives, with His wisdom for us, His purpose for us, His guidance for us every day, all day long. To align ourselves with Him at work, in our relationships with our families and friends, in our leisure—in everything. To be born again, to surrender our lives to Christ is to give up our own determined ways and adopt His, but also to allow Him to lead us in everything that we do. He makes all things new. He changes our lives so that we can live in Him, in His mind, be a part of His church.

 

When I look at creation and see the variety in plants and animals and rocks and waters, when I think about the 7 million species that scientist project exist on our planet, then I think that God would delight in the differences among us Christians and not be put off by them. I imagine that He and Jesus and the Holy Spirit might delight among themselves in all the different interpretations of the Gospels! After all, if we were each created as individuals, couldn’t we imagine that we would each have a unique view of life and of God? And then, wouldn’t we join with like-minded people in our worship of God? And wouldn’t we celebrate all our fellow Christians who believe in and follow Jesus Christ?

 

It takes true humility to follow Jesus. Following Him takes us to a love of all humanity, a caring for those who have little to nothing, a compassion for the lonely, the sick, the dying, and so much more. Jesus wasn’t afraid to meet with the enemies of His day. He answered Samaritans and Romans and non-Jews. He healed anyone who needed healing. He taught as His Father had taught him. As Paul puts it in his 1st Letter to the Corinthians, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church.”[3] “Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”[4] If we are to be a part of his body, the church, and not just a member of our individual church or denomination, we must let go of all objections to and judgments of other people, races and such. We must let go our own preferences, expectations, desires. We must be wholly devoted to Jesus Christ above all else. That is what it means to be a follower of Christ, a member of his Body the Church—we are to be wholly His and to live in harmony with all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

To live as Jesus called us to live would be a giant step forward into truth for our Christian brothers and sisters of today. No more hypocrisy. No more feeling that we’re better than the others because we have the right beliefs. We embrace the whole of the Gospel teachings of Jesus, not just belief in him but love of our neighbor, even our enemy. We are to be His servants in this world, that is, we are to serve everyone He puts in our path, everyone He calls us to serve. We are to follow him in everything in our lives. That is what it means to believe in and to follow Christian in this world.

 

 

 

 

[1] Edward W. Goodrick & John P. Kohlenberger III, Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance, 2nd Edition, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, p..1583, Strong’s #4409

[2] Ibid. p. 1525, Strong’s #199. To follow in the Greek is “akoloutheo,” a verb that means to “follow, accompany…be a disciple.”[2]

 

[3] Colossians 1:17-18

[4] 1 Corinthians 6:17

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