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Learning to Follow

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Learning to Follow


God has given us eternal life. And this life is found in his Son. Whoever belongs to the Son has life. Whoever doesn’t belong to the Son of God doesn’t have life. I’m writing these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God. I’m writing so you will know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13 NIRV

The first step in living the life God wants for you is to make sure you are actually FOLLOWING Jesus. When we read the Gospel stories, we immediately notice how Jesus purposely and clearly called people to FOLLOW Him. One day Jesus saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew casting their nets from a boat and He called out and said, “Follow Me, and I’ll teach you to fish for people instead of fish.” He offered them a sense of purpose.[1]

Scripture says, “Immediately they left their nets to FOLLOW JESUS.”

Walking a little further Jesus saw two more brothers James and John. They were sitting in the boat with their father mending their nets.

Jesus called out and said FOLLOW ME, and the same thing happened. They immediately left their father and their nets to follow Jesus.

What does it mean to follow Jesus? To be a FOLLOWER you and I must have an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. This truth is imperative to understand how Christianity works. Christianity isn’t like any other religion.

All other religions are built on ideas/ideologies. They have clear systems of thought that must be carefully followed. There’s usually extensive rules and regulations. But that’s not really what Christianity is about.

What’s interesting is that some people treat Christianity like other religions. They actually believe by going to church and trying hard to be a good person makes them a Christian. They couldn’t be more wrong!

Years ago I participated in a door-to-door survey; “If you were to die today and stand before God and He asked you, why should I let you into heaven, what would you say?” At least 90% said they’d say; “I tried to be good. I went to church. I hope the good I did outweighed the bad.”

But that’s not Christianity! Christianity is not a religion of rules. It’s not about trying to be good. Christianity is a living, breathing relationship with Jesus Christ. A very religious man named Nicodemus came to Jesus.[2] Nick was a good man. He tried his very best to live a good life. And Jesus said, that’s NOT it Nick! “You MUST BE born again.”

When a person is BORN AGAIN, they are immediately and eternally transformed! At that moment they may be completely ignorant of the teachings of Christianity, but one thing they do know, their heart has been changed.

Certainly after becoming a FOLLOWER of Jesus we must begin to study God’s Word. The Word itself has transformative power. But Christianity is far more than knowing the content of the Bible. It’s about knowing the author. It’s not just about living in the Word, it about knowing the Living Word!

Christianity is not really about doing, it’s about being. To BE IN CHRIST is not something we primarily learn in a book, it’s something we experience in our hearts. To be found IN Christ is not something we achieve by hard work over time, but it happens by faith in a moment of time.

BEING IN CHRIST is entirely a work of God. Our part is to simply believe, to put the full weight of our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the ONLY hope of the world. And God does the rest. It is God who changes us. It is God who gives us a new heart and renews our mind by His Holy Spirit.

So I must ask you today, are you IN Christ?  Not, do you believe in Christianity as a religion, but are you IN Christ? How can we know if we are IN Christ? The answer is simple. Has your heart been transformed? Is Jesus ALIVE IN you? That’s what it means to be a FOLLOWER of Jesus.

To learn more, listen to the podcast here. 

[1] Matthew 9

[2] John 3


About Ron Bontrager

Lead Pastor of Lakeview Church in Indianapolis.

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