Following Jesus Is Not an Easy Formula

joy

{This post is adapted from a previous Deeper Church post.}

Before my husband Patrick and I planted a church in Southern France, we attended a church planting conference at Northwood Church. There we received amazing teaching, and one of the nuggets I came away with way back in the ancient days of 2004 was the idea that Christianity wasn’t a series of easy steps.

In our to-do-list hyperactive society, we tend to think linearly. We want guidelines and steps to follow. We ponder things in terms of a simple trajectory. A + B = C.

But in the Eastern mind, life is circular, and as we think of Jesus and the claims He has for His followers, we have to remember He didn’t think the way we do. He asked for everything. He probed to the heart, from the central part of us out like spokes on a wheel.

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In my book, Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus, I spend a chapter talking about what is the gospel.

Is it a series of small steps, starting with the sinner’s prayer and ending in missionary nirvana? The problem with this simplistic, formulaic approach is that we sell folks a bill of goods when we bait and switch like this. We say, “All you do is say this simple prayer.” So folks pray it, and they think, “Wow, that’s easy. Now my life will be awesome!”

Except that it isn’t awesome.

Why?

Because the moment someone says that prayer, the forces of darkness will launch a full out attack. And the nature of true discipleship is to die to self and relinquish control. (Click to tweet.)

Neither are easy things. This is why some folks fall away from the faith because they think it’s supposed to be easy.

Instead we should share the whole gospel right up front. No more bait and switch. No gimmicks The gospel means following Jesus, not our own desires.

And what did Jesus do?

  • He suffered.
  • He died.
  • He sacrificed.
  • He served.
  • He decreased.
  • He glorified His father (not His own image, agenda, fame, or purposes).
  • He relinquished.
  • He was selfless.
  • He had a higher goal in mind.
If we are to FOLLOW Jesus, we must follow in those footsteps.
So it’s not, “All you do is …. ” Christianity. It’s radical relationship. It’s a willingness to lay down your agenda for the sake of His.
The cool part: joy comes in the sacrifice.
We highlight artificial joy when we preach a painless Christianity. (Click to tweet). True joy comes by serving and letting go. Where our frailty meets His availability. (And it’s not about us doing Christianity. It’s about the Holy Spirit working through us.)
So let’s let go of this “simple” formula of Christianity, shall we? Let’s live the gospel from the inside out, from that place in our heart that dares to give every. single. thing. to Jesus.
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