An Indian college professor once told a Christian student of his that, “If you Christians lived like Jesus, all of India would accept Christ”. How undeniably tragic; if those of us who professed to follow Jesus Christ actually did so, the world would be changed and rocked to its core. This raises a baffling question for me. Why would someone choose to be a Christian and then live as if the choice was never made? Why is it so many surrender their lives to Jesus only to walk in ways that are diametrically opposed to His teachings? What is it they hope to gain?
Perhaps the Western Christianity of the past couple hundred years is to blame. We have taught a salvation possible with minimal effort and even less commitment. Pray this magic prayer and save yourself from a fiery hell, no further action on your part will be necessary! The notion of such teaching conjures up images of a carnival barker yelling out to every passerby. But this is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ; this is not the Good News we are to take throughout the world. It is not the message and mission of Jesus that we find in the Bible.
Becoming a Christian, a little Christ, one who looks like Jesus, requires action and a lifelong commitment to carrying out the instructions given to us by the very Son of God. Jesus is not simply a commodity, or a lucky ticket out of Hell. Rather He is a priceless gift, the means by which we can experience life as it was meant to be lived both here on earth and in His presence for eternity. If we see Christ as an escape route from pain and suffering, we will never understand what it truly means to know Him; He will simply remain a distant Savior who we claim to know in a casual sense. If instead we see Him as a loving Lord who is worthy of all our honor and effort, we will come to know Him fully and find rest in His comfort and peace.
It is only by becoming intimately familiar with His heart and His ways that we be able to become true followers of Christ. Until our heart breaks for the things that His does, until we see every person as a valuable and special creation, we will not be able to carry out His mission. This is what it means to follow Jesus: to know Him, to love Him, and to imitate Him. This is so much more than simply praying a prayer and claiming to now be a “Christian”. Until it means something, it means nothing. Going to church won’t save you, saying a prayer won’t make you a Christian, and reading the Bible will not get it done. Becoming a follower of Christ requires putting your entire life and trust in Him alone. It requires doing the work He created you to do; it means loving Him above all else and sharing His love with the world.
Following Jesus means we must walk the path that He walked. You can’t follow someone by heading in an opposite direction. We must do the things Christ did; He has specifically gifted us in unique ways to do work that only we can do (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 2:10). Beyond our belief in Him, a true follower of Christ does what Christ did; we live as He lived. If you aren’t serious about surrendering absolutely everything to Jesus, don’t waste your time becoming a lip-service Christian. This is not a path for the faint of heart; it’s a road of suffering, a life of intense highs and excruciating lows. As followers of Jesus we are on an unstoppable mission. We do not faint and we will not turn back. This is as serious and real as it gets. You can keep your so-called “Christianity”. I choose to follow Christ.