My Greatest Misconception About Following Jesus
Living the Christian life has not always been what I thought it would be. No, I didn’t make my decision to follow Christ thinking that all my problems would be solved and that all my dreams would come true. Even as a youngster, before I ever committed to following Christ, I saw good, honest, hard-working Christians who didn’t always have it easy. So, somehow even as a child I knew that becoming a Christian did not mean that I would necessarily be blessed with earthly treasures and all good things. So that wasn’t a misconception I had about following Jesus.
Neither did I believe that becoming a Christian meant that God would love me more. Oh, I know – and am ever so thankful – that God loves me, but He doesn’t just love me because I decided to follow Him. He loved me first. He loved me before I ever really thought about becoming a Christian. He loved me when I was lost. And He loves me now, even when I mess up. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more. He has already loved me enough to die for me. Again, somehow, even as a child I knew God loved me. I knew He loved all people. So that wasn’t a misconception I had about following Jesus.
To be sure, as a young Christian, there were many things I didn’t understand about the Christian walk. But as I think about my decision to follow Christ, I believe my greatest misconception was that I could do it! Oh, how I wanted to. I wanted to follow Jesus. I wanted to do what was right. I wanted others to see Christ in me. But, unfortunately, I didn’t always succeed. I would continually “turn over new leaves” trying to get it right. Just like making resolutions for the new year, I would vow that I would not lose my temper, not be provoked to jealousy or envy, only think the best of others, and so on depending upon whatever temptations Satan threw my way. Yet, time and again, I would fail.
Then one day I stumbled on 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” I couldn’t help but wonder. If I’m a new creation, if I have in effect been restored to what God planned for me to be, then why do I keep on stumbling? How can I live the Christian life?
I’m not sure when I finally got it, but, eventually, I realized that my decision to follow Christ was just the beginning – the jumping off point! When I made my decision to follow Christ, I was placing my life in Christ’s hands, surrendering it completely to Him. I was embarking on a journey – not by myself, but with Christ. I was entering into a relationship with the One who died for me and it was Christ who would work to transform me to look more like Him. Paul explained this process: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Through this relationship that I have with Christ, He teaches me, guides me, and helps me to learn how to live the Christian life. I can’t become more like Christ in my own strength. No amount of sincere effort, starting over, trying harder, or resolving to do better can enable me to live that life. But just as I trusted Christ for my salvation, I also trust Him to change me, to work in me and help me to become more like the person God originally created me to be. It’s a process. I’m a work in progress.
But just as any relationship requires work, so does my relationship with Christ. If my husband I never talk to one another, spend time together, listen to each other, or seek to please and honor one another by the way we treat or talk about each other; we will grow distant in our relationship with one another. So it is with our relationship with Christ. Following Christ begins with a choice and a decision. But if we truly want to follow Christ and walk with Him, we must commit to not only trust Him for our salvation, but to also trust Him in every area of our lives.
When I trust Christ….
- I rely on Him and not on my own understanding.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- I seek Him first and above all other people or things.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
- I follow and obey His teachings.
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:31-32).
- I study and come to know God’s word.
“The book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it” (Joshua: 1:8a).
- I love God and love others.
“So He answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:27).
- I seek to honor Him by the things I say and do.
“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21, ESV).
As a young, new believer, I didn’t fully understand what following Christ looked like. I thought it was all about me and what I did. But through the years, I’ve discovered that following Christ is so much more. As I seek Him and trust Him day-by-day, I have found a friend, a friend who…
laid down His life for me (John 3:16; 15:13),
who cares for me (see 1 Peter 5:7),
who helps and sustains me (see Psalm 55:22; Isaiah 41:10),
who guides and teaches me (see Psalm 32:8),
who comforts me (see 2 Corinthians 1:4),
who surrounds me with His presence (see Psalm 139:7-12),
who intercedes for me before the Father (see Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25),
who will never leave or forsake me (see Hebrews 13:5)…….
a friend who is with me for life, even unto death, and who will be waiting for me in Heaven – when I’ll finally be fully transformed into His image – not because I finally got it right, but because I know Jesus and He had it right all along.
“And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”