In today’s world, many people claim to follow Jesus or be a Christian. But what does it really mean to follow Jesus? If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Following Jesus means devoting your life to loving God, loving others, and making disciples.
In this in-depth article, we will explore the key aspects involved in following Jesus. We’ll cover topics like repentance, obedience, discipleship, witnessing, and more. By the end, you’ll have a thorough understanding of what it truly means to follow Jesus Christ in your daily life.
Repentance and Baptism
Admitting and Turning From Sin
Repentance is the first step in following Jesus. It involves humbly admitting our sins before God and turning away from them (Acts 3:19). This requires honest self-reflection and a desire to change our ways.
We must recognize where we have fallen short of God’s standards and resolve to align our lives with His will. Repentance is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process as we continually seek to reject sin and draw nearer to Christ.
To repent, we need to become aware of our sins. We can ask God to reveal areas that need improvement. As we study Scripture, certain passages may convict us of sinful habits or attitudes that must change. Repentance also involves confessing our sins to God and asking for forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
While confession and repentance lead to forgiveness, they do not earn it. Forgiveness is an unconditional gift of grace from God.
Turning from sin means striving to eliminate unrighteous thoughts, words, and actions from our lives. We should examine our relationships, time use, entertainment choices, and work habits. Any area of life promoting sin must be reformed by God’s power and wisdom.
Repentance is not works-based, but faith-based. As we turn to Christ, our desire for sin will decrease. Old habits may resurface, but we can continually reapply the cleansing blood of Jesus.
Being Born Again Through Baptism
Baptism is an outward display of the inward commitment to follow Christ in new life. Jesus Himself insisted on the importance of baptism (John 3:5). The ritual symbolizes our spiritual rebirth as children of God.
Although baptism itself does not save us, obedience in baptism is a response of faith and part of our salvation experience.
Specifically, baptism represents the death of our old sinful self, burial of our former way of life, and resurrection to righteousness in Jesus (Romans 6:3-4). As we go down into the water, our sins are washed away. We emerge to walk in renewed moral purity.
Baptism also unites us with other believers in Jesus’ death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 12:13). We join the family of God.
Baptism commonly occurs by full immersion in water, since this best parallels the spiritual transformation. However, sprinkling suffices when immersion is unfeasible. The location of rivers, lakes, or baptismal pools facilitates immersion. Believers undergo baptism after professing faith in Jesus.
Therefore, infant baptism is generally not practiced. Baptism is a one-time event with permanent spiritual impact. Although many baptisms occur during special church services, the ritual itself is more meaningful than the setting.
Following Jesus’ Commands
Jesus gave his followers many direct commands during his ministry on Earth. Some key examples include loving God and neighbors (Matthew 22:37-39), making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), practicing humility and service (John 13:14-15), forgiving others (Matthew 6:14-15), and rejoicing in trials (John 16:33).
Followers of Christ aim to obey these and other commands out of devotion to their Lord and Savior.
Obedience to Christ expresses love for him (John 14:15), leads to blessing (Luke 11:28), and shows that one is truly a disciple (John 8:31). However, following Jesus’ commands is often challenging in a world that rejects biblical values.
Believers need the help of the Holy Spirit to obey (Ezekiel 36:27) and the support of faith community (Hebrews 10:24-25). As GotQuestions.org notes, obeying Jesus confirms one’s identity as his sheep who know his voice (John 10:27).
Imitating Jesus’ Example
In addition to obeying Jesus’ direct commands, followers of Christ are called to imitate his life and character. As the apostle John wrote, “whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).
Major aspects of Christ’s example include serving others (Mark 10:45), showing compassion (Matthew 9:36), pursuing justice (Matthew 23:23), demonstrating humility (Philippians 2:5-8), integrity (1 Peter 2:22), and perseverance through suffering (Hebrews 12:3).
The early church understood imitating Christ’s example as essential for spiritual growth. Paul told the Corinthians to “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Similarly, he instructed the Ephesians to “be imitators of God” and live a life of love “just as Christ loved us” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Christian spiritual formation involves letting Jesus’ extraordinary life shape one’s character and conduct by walking as he walked (1 John 2:6).
Study and Prayer
Reading and Meditating on Scripture
Reading the Bible and meditating on its meaning is crucial for following Jesus. As His disciples, we need to know His teachings, example, and commands. The Bible is God’s love letter to humanity, revealing who He is and how we can have a relationship with Him.
Set aside regular quiet time to read Scripture, even if just a few verses a day. Ask God to speak to you through His word. Write down thoughts and questions that come to mind. Highlight or bookmark meaningful passages to revisit. Consider getting a study Bible or commentary for deeper insight.
As you read and reflect, look for how biblical truths and stories apply to your life today. Let God’s promises and principles transform your mindset. Be willing to obey whatever He shows you. The more time spent in Scripture, the better you’ll know Jesus and His heart.
Communing with God in Prayer
Prayer is vital for following Jesus because that’s how we build intimacy with God. Jesus himself modeled a lifestyle of prayer, frequently withdrawing to quiet places to connect with the Father and seek His will.
Humans were designed for two-way communion with God. Prayer is simply talking and listening to Him as you would a close friend. Be real and honest about what’s going on inside. Bring Him your worries, confusion, pain and anger. Thank Him for the good things too.
Ask for wisdom and guidance to follow Him each day.
Cultivating an active prayer life may feel challenging at first. Distractions abound and focusing can be difficult. Persevere through dry or difficult seasons. Set reminders to pray throughout your day. Prayer walks are great for combining movement with conversation with God.
The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. The reward of deeper intimacy with Jesus makes it all worthwhile.
Fellowship and Community
Participating in a Church
Attending and serving in a local church provides followers of Jesus with opportunities for fellowship, spiritual growth, and community outreach. According to surveys, over 65% of Americans who consider themselves Christians attend religious services at least once a month.
This fellowship with other believers plays a vital role in the life of faith.
By coming together for corporate worship, believers can pray, sing praises, and study Scripture alongside one another. This not only lifts up Jesus Christ but forges unity within the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12).
Additionally, the preaching and teaching in most church services equip Christians with deeper theological knowledge and practical wisdom for following Jesus daily.
Beyond weekend services, participation in a local congregation allows Christians to use their unique gifts and talents to serve others. From volunteering in the nursery or feeding the homeless to leading a small group Bible study, church ministry opportunities help followers of Jesus move beyond mere intellectual assent to actively living out their faith.
Doing Life Together With Other Believers
In addition to organized church participation, informal fellowship proves valuable for followers of Jesus. By interweaving their lives with other Christians, believers encourage accountability and spur one another on to maturity in Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Casual interactions while grabbing coffee, sharing meals, or talking on the phone facilitate discipleship as believers pray for and counsel one another through various seasons of life.
These deep friendships modeled after the early church (Acts 2:42-47) remind Christians they do not walk alone. Through times of celebration and hardship alike, the communal aspect of following Jesus testifies to an unbreakable spiritual bond secured by God himself.
With over 2.5 billion adherents globally, this fellowship offers Jesus’ followers a faith reinforced by the wider communion of saints.
In the end, participation in a local church and doing life shoulder-to-shoulder with other Christians fuels an essential communal identity for followers of Jesus. United by God’s Spirit, believers who fellowship together grow in their love for God and others as they walk the path of discipleship.
Witnessing and Making Disciples
Telling Others About Jesus
Witnessing about one’s faith in Jesus is a key part of discipleship according to the Bible (Matthew 28:19-20). This involves sharing the gospel message with unbelievers in the hope that they too might put their faith in Christ.
Christians can witness through everyday conversations, leaving gospel tracts, street preaching, social media, and volunteerism. The goal is to compel others to seriously consider salvation through Christ with care, wisdom and sensitivity to their background (1 Peter 3:15).
According to surveys by Lifeway Research in 2021, over 90% of churchgoers agree telling non-Christians about Jesus is important. However, only 52% actually did so in the last 6 months. So there is room for improvement in equipping Christians to witness regularly.
Many resources like Evangelism Explosion train believers how to naturally share Christ during life’s conversations without being pushy.
Teaching and Discipling New Believers
Once someone puts their trust in Jesus, they need help learning to obey His teachings. This discipling process allows them to grow into maturity (Hebrews 5:11-14). It involves connecting them to a local church body, baptism, teaching doctrine and theology, Bible study, prayer guidance, and mentorship over months and years.
Topics covered range from assurance of salvation to developing Christian character through the Holy Spirit to discovering one’s spiritual gifts for serving the church mission.
Small groups, one-on-one mentorship and seminars are great ways to disciple. Leading discipleship ministry organizations like The Navigators provide excellent materials. A 2020 Barna study showed 75% of Christians believe discipleship is very important, but only 55% are personally involved in discipling others.
So churches need to continue mobilizing believers to spiritually mentor new followers of Jesus.
Following Jesus is so much more than just believing certain facts about him. It’s a total life commitment and transformation. As we repent, obey, pray, fellowship, and witness, we become more like Christ every day.
If you want your life to be defined by actively loving God and others, then you must make the choice to truly follow Jesus.
We hope this overview has helped you better understand the key aspects of following Jesus. If you’re ready to fully devote your life to him, don’t wait any longer – take that first step in faith today!