Each one of us gets to decide whether or not we will follow Jesus. But none of us get to decide how we will follow Him. Our freewill ends when we choose to be a disciple. If that is indeed our choice, from that point forward, the way we live is determined by Jesus and not ourselves. It is the pledge we make to Him. Our freewill isn’t taken from us, it I surrendered by us. It’s your choice to follow Jesus.
You get to decide. However once that decision is made, you are obligated to live life the way Jesus commanded you live it. Freewill is an amazing gift and should not be lightly given away. You must understand the cost. For those willing to count such a cost, the rewards of living life wholly surrendered to Christ are beyond words and incalculable. It’s your choice.
The Gospels are full of examples of people who tried to define how they would follow Jesus. They weren’t listening to what Jesus was saying to them. Some thought they could follow Him after first setting the affairs of their estate in order (Matthew 8:21-22). Jesus demanded they put Him first in all things; there is no space in the vocabulary of a disciple for the words, “but first let me…”. Jesus is first. Period. It can cause some gut-wrenching decisions and some significant paradigm shifts in your thinking. Still, it’s your choice.
Others felt they could keep their earthly possessions and desires intact while serving Christ (Matthew 19:16-22). Jesus was simply an add-on to the comfortable and enjoyable life they had already created for themselves. When He informed them it didn’t work this way, they went away dejected because the sacrifice was too great in their eyes. They were thinking too small, not seeing the bigger picture and the glorious end result. Jesus demands you forsake everything to follow Him. You may not physically lose everything, but in your heart and mind, all else will be dead and useless to you. It’s your choice.
There were also those who expected to just take the blessings of God and rest on their laurels (Matthew 25:14-30). They didn’t feel they had a responsibility to do anything but keep safe what God had entrusted to them. Jesus demands a life of action, of continuous investment back into His Kingdom. He blesses you so in turn you will bless others. He pours Himself into you so you can reflect His love to a desperate and dying world. There are obligations that come with blessings. They are not for us; they are for us to share with others.
The commands of Jesus are not complex. He simply says to follow Him. What you see Him doing? Do the same. What you see Him not doing? Avoid those things. It is simple but difficult because it means willingly surrendering our freewill. It means swallowing our pride and living in humility and service to others. Above all it means loving Jesus and others more than ourselves. If you decide to follow Christ, you should know what you’re getting yourself into. You should know it’s not about church and it’s not about being a good person. Being a disciple of Jesus means the end of you. Are you willing to give it all away for the One who gave everything for you? It’s your choice.