WHY FOLLOW JESUS?
Because this man who claimed to be God invites all people, you included, on an amazing journey.
When Jesus came into the world, His way to connect with people was to ask them to join Him on a journey. He said, “Follow me.” God never intended for people to walk alone. From ancient times God has been walking with people, calling on them to go where He leads.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Some Christians use this saying to prove Jesus is against other religions, but others simply hear these words as a call to follow the One who knows the way to what so many of us seek: true life. Are you following Jesus or are you taking your own way? Where will you be when you get where you’re going?
A traditional song asks the question, “Where will you be when you get where you’re going?” The song persists to ask, “How will you know if you’re taking the right way?!” One big thing followers of God have held on to since the beginning is this: they trust God. Trusting that God created us, knows best, and will show us the way has guided people since the beginning of the world.
You may be wondering how to connect with the God who walks with people through life and whether or not there are people who truly walk with God where you live. We’re not meant to walk alone. We believe some people in your town or village follow Jesus, and you would do well to seek them out and join them.
WHY ARE YOU HERE?
Why are you here? Does your life have meaning so that when you wake up every day, you know exactly why you exist and your next step? Some humans talk as if they know each morning exactly why they exist, where they are going, what they are doing each day, and they feel truly alive and certain. Not every Christian believes this is how it works.
In history, there are not many real people who have all those things lined up so neatly. You may wake up one day sad, unmotivated, uncertain why you exist, unable. Then you have some coffee and you start to remember that you have a baby, or a job, or someone depending on you, and you start to take steps to do something that proves at least you are needed on this little patch of planet earth.
There was once a young boy who asked his father, “What did you do when you were my age?”
“I went to school,” the boy’s father said.
“Why did you go to school?” asked the son.
“To study,” the father said.
“Why did you study?”
“To get smart,” the father said.
“Why did you want to get smart?” the son asked.
“So I could get a good job,” the father said.
“Why did you want a good job?”
“So I could make lots of money.”
“Why did you want to make lots of money?”
“So I could buy food,” the father replied.
“Why do you want to buy food?”
“So I can eat and feed you,” the father replied.
“Why do we eat?” the son asked.
“To live,” the father replied.
“Why do we live?”
The man was tired of answering his son’s questions. He looked into his son’s eyes and asked, “Why do you think we live, son?”
The son said, “To die.”
The fact is, most humans do lots of things that are mundane and seem meaningless, but when we choose to walk with God, those things that might have otherwise seemed meaningless become filled with meaning and purpose, and most of all with love. But some people don’t know that it’s not the things we do but the love with which we do them that makes life truly meaningful.
WHAT ARE YOU SEARCHING FOR?
A woman lost her wedding ring, so she cleaned the whole house looking for it, and finally when sweeping the floor, she found her ring! She was so happy she called her husband to tell him, and that night they went out to celebrate.
A shepherd had one hundred sheep. One day one of the young lambs got separated and lost from the herd. The shepherd secured the ninety-nine sheep and went looking for the lamb. When he found the lamb some distance back on the path, it’s foot stuck between two tree roots, the shepherd gently dislodged the lamb’s leg. He carried the lamb back to the bleating herd, and he was very happy.
A young man was fed up with living at home. He’d graduated high school and tech school and could weld and fix anything. He told his father he was leaving and asked for the money promised for starting out on his own. He had a brother who still lived at home, and he said goodbye to him and set out for another city where he knew a friend. Those first weeks on his own were pure joy as the young man reveled in his newfound freedom. He drank more than ever, and he’d buy rounds for his friend and newly acquired tap “friends.” He did odd jobs not enough to keep up with the diminishing money his father gave him.
It had been a year since the young man left, and he was broke and still couch surfing at his friend’s apartment. What was he supposed to do now? He’d gotten a DUI and had community service to do, and finding work was becoming more difficult because companies did background checks on him and thought he’d become a liability. He worked day labor jobs and lived on cash, but before each night was over at the bar, his wallet was empty.
When his friend announced he was moving in with his girlfriend, the young man panicked. Where would he live? In a matter of days, he was out on the streets and for the first time in his life slept outside. He lived on the streets for two months, still working day labor, living a day on cash, and starting again the next day. He started to think about his brother and father and wondered what they’d think of him living on the streets. He didn’t hate his father and brother, but he was embarrassed that he didn’t make it on his own, that he’d spent all his father’s money on partying, that he was friendless. This thought came to him every time he lifted himself into a dumpster behind the nicest restaurant in the city to find scraps of food.
“Dad’s dog may want to eat the trash, but dad would never let him, now here I am eating out of a dumpster,” the young man thought. He looked at his dirty finger nails, he found a broken piece of mirror and stared back at his long uncombed hair and bloodshot eyes. For the first time in his life he longed for home, to see his dad and brother. He thought, “I don’t deserve to sleep under my dad’s roof after I squandered his money. That’s why I’m living on the streets. I’m trash like what’s in this dumpster.”
Day after day he would live like this until finally one day he thought, “What if I did go home? Maybe I could just hammock in the backyard until I can make enough money to pay back what dad gave me. I’ll show him that I am not worthless.”
The young man decided to hitch a ride back to his hometown. When he got off the bus, he was surprised that everything looked the same as it always did. Somehow he thought since he’d changed, that his hometown would look different. He noticed people looked at him funny. He went into the rest room at the bus station to wet down his hair and try to look presentable, but his clothes were dirty and by now he didn’t know that they also reeked like sweet trash.
He began walking and when he reached the street going to his father’s house, he saw his brother outside mowing the grass. His brother was always a dutiful worker and always did what their father told him. When the older dutiful brother looked and recognized the long-haired young man as his brother a few houses away, however, he didn’t make a move toward him but went into the house to tell his dad. Immediately his dad bounded out of the house and ran down the sidewalk to meet his son. When they came face to face, the father tried to look his son in the face but the young man could only look at his worn out shoes and couldn’t bear to look his father in the eyes. The father picked up his son and bearhugged him, spun him around. He was so happy and he shouted for anyone in the neighborhood to hear, “This long-haired man is my son. I haven’t heard from him in a year, and I didn’t know—I didn’t know if he was even alive! But he’s alive. And he’s come back!”
The young man said, “Father, I’m not worthy to live in your house. I’ll make a hammock and tie it to the trees in the back and sleep there until I can make money to pay back what I wasted of your money. I want to show you—”
The father stopped his son in mid-sentence and said, “You are my son. Your home is here, your room is ready. You will not stay outside. I love you, and I’m happy you are home. The money I gave you was yours, and there is no debt to pay.”
He walked his son back to the house where he helped him get some clean clothes and saw that he took a shower. He did stink, and if they were going to have a party, he’d have to smell better! The father invited everyone he could think of who’d ever known his son: neighbors, school friends, family, teachers to come to a backyard barbecue to celebrate the return of his son.
That night at the barbecue the father saw his older son sitting on a lawn chair off in a corner in the dark by himself, nursing a bottle of beer. The father grabbed a beer, pulled up another chair and sat down by his oldest son.
“Your brother is home. You don’t look happy about that.”
“Why should I be. He squandered all the money you gave him, and you just forgive him of the debt like nothing happened. In that same time I’m working, even started giving you part of the house payment, and I take care of the place, but you’ve never thrown a party for me and my friends. This is not fair,” the oldest brother said.
“Son, you have always been with me. You are wired so differently. You are such a faithful son, and I love you. All that you have is mine,” the father told his eldest son. “But come, party with everyone else and be happy. For your brother was dead for all we knew, but now he’s alive. He was lost, and now he’s found.”
Jesus told three stories like this about a woman, a shepherd, and a father. The story is not about the thing that was lost. It’s not about a ring or a lamb or a son getting lost. The story is about a faithful searcher. God is a faithful searcher for lost valuables, lambs, sons and daughters who’ve lost their way.
HAVE YOU LOST THE WAY?
Where will you be when you get where you’re going? Want to follow the one who searches for you, waits for you, longs for you, picks you up and spins wildly when you return? Want to go on a journey with someone like that? God has always invited people on a journey, and there is a group of people who invite you and one another every day to keep taking this path with Jesus, who invite all people into Christ-centered life. There is much to learn, much to do, much to enjoy, much to suffer on this road. If you are ready, come, follow Jesus with us.
We follow by taking a single step, and we view following Jesus as a series of next steps. Your very next step may be to stop going the way you’re going, to leave a life of sin, to overcome an addiction, to come back home. Your next step may be to start trusting in Jesus. We want to mention three simple steps right now that you can consider. These are simple steps that are like what we do everyday but they are directed toward God.
THREE NEXT STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TODAY
The FIRST step is to say to Jesus who is calling you to follow, “I’m sorry.” We’ve all done things we’re sorry for, and to admit that and say aloud to Jesus that I know I’ve sinned and feel badly about it is an important step toward Jesus.
SECOND, you can say “Thank You.” God seems always to appreciate the grateful, thankful creation and not to appreciate self-important humans who are ungrateful and have no thankfulness in their hearts.
THIRD, you can say, “Please.” You can invite Jesus to please show you the next step of the way. When we follow Jesus, we believe in simple trust that Jesus knows the way and will show us the next step today, another one tomorrow, but as He taught, each day has enough worries and we only need this one step right now. Jesus said all you need do if you want help is to ask and He will be with you in what is called the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ we believes has always existed and is able to come directly to you when you ask for direction.
SO, WHERE WILL YOU BE WHEN YOU GET WHERE YOU'RE GOING?
That traditional song that asks, “Where will you be when you get where you’re going?” concludes with a joyful declaration: “There is someone who knows where you’re going. His name is Jesus, the life, the truth, the way. He died and rose to make a new creation.” Those who follow Jesus are seeking what that new creation means, and it’s a journey of a lifetime with many surprises ahead.