"I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of," (The Message, John 10:10)- what a wonderful word from Jesus!
Some people think that "being a Christian" is all about keeping the rules- especially the "golden rule." Others seem to think that "being a Christian" comes as a birthright- something of an inheritance from being born into the right family or nation. Some people equate "being a Christian" with maintaining certain rituals or being a member of a church. Living a good life, coming from a good family, or doing good things are all, well, good. But none of them, or all of them, are the best answer for what it means to "be a Christian." Simply put, "being a Christian" is following Jesus.
Following Jesus leads us on a path of forgiveness (from God and for others), wholeness (brokenness can be restored!) , community (a church- drawn together by commitments to worship, service, and caring), and hope (confidence and comfort for this life and the promise of eternal life). Following Jesus does not mean having all the answers, getting it right all the time, or doing it the way it's always been done. We are invited to follow Jesus with faith, forgiveness, and freedom.
Following Jesus also leads us into participation with God in the building of God's Kingdom- where grace, justice, mercy, and love are shared freely with all God's children.
Some other thoughts about following Jesus:
- "This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again." (The Message, John 3:16-17)
- "If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins- make a clean breast of them- he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing." (The Message, 1John 1:9-10)
- "Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower his grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and the saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing." (The Message, Ephesians 2:8-10)
A prayer for following Jesus:
Day by day, dear Lord, these things I pray: to see Thee more clearly, to love Thee more dearly, and to follow Thee more nearly, day by day.