Being a follower of Christ is more than just proclaiming yourself to be one. Following Jesus is an active pursuit, not suitable for those more comfortable sitting in the stands or even on the sidelines. To be a follower of Jesus requires purposeful action and a definiteness of direction. Ultimately, whether we are or are not a true follower will be determined by our actions. You can believe in Jesus right where you are, but you cannot follow Him until you move from where you are to where He is.
We should always be working to improve our character, moving ever closer to the life modeled by Jesus. The way we follow Jesus is to do the things that He would do, to go the places He would go. The entire life of Jesus was marked by integrity. He was always focused and stayed on mission. While some of the religious leaders of His day questioned His character, they could never find any flaws with Him. Try as they might, they always went away from conversations with Him having their tail tucked between their legs. Jesus never had to worry about people seeing Him doing something questionable, because there was no room in His character for questionable activities. We can live the same way. Having first determined to be a person of integrity, we can spend the rest of our days strengthening that same resolve. All questionable activities must be immediately rejected; all negative and derogatory speech must be stopped before it leaves our lips. These are not impossible achievements for us. They are matters of choice and discipline.
Modeling our life after Jesus requires that we act with kindness and generosity towards others. These “others” would include everyone we meet. Jesus loves all people equally and so we must strive to do the same. Become know as a person of compassion, one whom can always be depended on to provide an encouraging or comforting word. People long for someone to listen to them, to share their pain. Let’s be that person they turn to when life has them down, regardless of the circumstances. Following Jesus means we will be living a life that looks quite different from the world around us. What better way to start than with a tender and compassionate heart for everyone we meet? Make certain the love you share with others is genuine and not forced. With practice – lots of practice – loving others can truly become second nature.
It’s easy to claim that we are followers of Jesus. It’s easy to articulate our beliefs and encourage others to join us in those beliefs. The difficulty arises when we realize that we must put those beliefs into action. Regardless of how deeply held your beliefs are they will be inconsequential until you take action on their behalf. You can’t love people without actually loving them. Love that matters is not simply a concept, it is an active verb. So it is with all our beliefs. If we do not act them out, they are ultimately useless.
In the end, we may have talked a great game. We may sound like the holiest person on the planet. But if we haven’t given of ourselves to live out our faith, if we haven’t lived sacrificially in order to share what we have with others, we will have missed the entire point of God’s love. It will be up to us whether or not we believe the cost is worth it. However, if we would be a follower of Jesus, this is a price we must be willing to pay. So how well are you measuring up to Jesus? Are you merely practicing a tired rhetoric or are you living your faith out loud and in full view of everyone? All that matters is what we do with our faith. We are known by our confession but measured by our works for Jesus. Are you a true follower? How do you measure up?