People choose to follow Jesus for many reasons. Many follow Him in an effort to reach Heaven and, by default, escape the fiery depths of Hell. Others follow Him because they see Him as a wise and moral teacher.
Then there are those of us who follow Him because we love Him with all of our heart and seek to live a life that pleases Him. Into which camp do you fall?
Jesus as a fire escape
If you are looking to Jesus simply as a way to escape Hell, I fear you may end up drastically disappointed. The New Testament idea of salvation is very different than what is preached from many of the pulpits today. The popular Western version of Christianity states that if you say a prayer to accept Jesus, you are covered and will spend eternity in Heaven. Unfortunately this is found nowhere within the Bible. What the Bible does say is that those who follow Jesus will do the work He commanded them to do. This includes things like feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, sheltering the homeless and caring for widows and orphans. Jesus clearly states in Matthew 7:21-23 that many people will come to Him on their judgment day professing that they know Him and He will simply send them away from His presence. It matters little if you say you know Jesus. What really matters is if He knows you. Saying a magic prayer isn’t going to get it done. You’ve got to have your life immersed by the Spirit of God. If you have His Spirit living within you, you will do the things He commanded us to do.
Jesus the good teacher
Many so called intellectuals claim to follow Jesus because of His wisdom and His mission of peace. Yet they totally miss the message and meaning of His time on earth. Jesus was keenly aware that following Him would lead to violence and oftentimes death (Matthew 10:16-39). Following Jesus because it might be cool in certain philosophical circles is a one way ticket to Hell. Unless you embrace both His works and His deity, you will find yourself as left out as those who proclaim their belief in Him without demonstrating it by their works.
Jesus as Lord
The only way anyone gets to Heaven is by believing that Jesus is who He claimed to be and to glorify His name by doing the things He told us to do. This is not an “either/or” deal, it’s a “both/and”. You don’t get to know Jesus simply by praying a prayer or by doing a few good deeds. You develop a relationship with Him the same way you develop any other relationship: by spending time with one another and becoming genuinely interested in doing all you can to honor Him. Unless you fall madly, head over heels in love with Jesus Christ, the odds of Heaven become a bit slimmer for you. Jesus demands our devotion, but does so by expressing an unconditional love for us. Serving Jesus becomes something that we earnestly desire to do if we are truly followers of Him.
Why do you follow Jesus?
So why do you follow Jesus? Do you do so because you are deeply thankful for His sacrifice and because you cannot stop loving Him in return? Are you demonstrating your love by obediently engaging in activities that bring glory to His name? Death is not the time for surprises. Make sure you have eternity taken care of by genuinely following the loving, all-powerful Creator of the Universe. He is the only way, the only truth and the only life.
Question: Why do you follow Jesus?