How are you doing as a follower? As a follower of Jesus? Are you making follower of Jesus? Depending on your answer you might be joyful and excited or confused, guilty, and frustrated. There are some misconceptions of what a follower of Jesus is and what the process of becoming more like Jesus really looks like. The following are common misconceptions of what discipleship is:
“I attend church and that’s enough for me.” Following Christ is a relationship. It is a lifestyle within a community. It cannot be tied to a program or church. A lot of followership can happen at church, but most of the time it doesn’t and shouldn’t. Following Christ happens in a community of followers doing life with one another [Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25]. Following never happens alone. If your only following is sitting under your pastor for an hour or two a week that is a poor view of followership.
“I can grow on my own.” Left to ourselves following Christ does not happen–for long [Luke 9:57-62; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:11-16]. I grow by becoming constantly confronted with the gospel of Jesus. Lone Ranger and Tivo Christianity do not cut it. I must be willing to count the cost and commit to be vulnerable within a family of followers.
“I am more mature now; following is for new Christians.” You are never too old to be discipled. Seasoned Christians realize that problems do not go away because they are Christian, they simply realize they are sinners [1 Peter 4:12-13]. Until we leave this planet we will continually struggle with sin and our faith. As a follower of Christ, I am not quite like my Master yet, so there is room for followership.
“I read my Bible.” We must not be content with only reading and knowing more about the God of the Bible. Some Christians are like an overstuffed Chipolte burrito. It is not just what you know, but what you do with what you know [James 1:19-27]. There is a great difference between being a student and a follower.
“I am not responsible to change everything.” Following Christ cannot be compartmentalized or systematized. It is all of me or none of me. Christ wants to be all and in all. Christ wants to be involved with my money, parenting, marriage, singleness, career, resume, fashion, habits and more. Sound intrusive? That is discipleship. It is not behavior modification, rather it is dealing with sin and living like Christ. True followership takes all of Christ’s teaching and applies them to our life.
“I do not have time.” If someone in your family dies you make the time to be with the ones you love. You ask off of work, you reschedule your plans because family matters [Luke 9:57-62]. So it is with your faith and the faith of others around you. Followers understand they have been given a whole new identity, a whole new agenda, a whole new mission, a whole new community, and a whole new life through the gospel. Followers of Christ make the time because it is a relationship with a living God and our faith at times of dying.
“I don’t know enough about the Bible.” Followers are not just theology PhD’s or seminary trained pastors. In Jesus day, they were fishermen, tax collectors and everyday people fired up about what Christ can do in a life. If you have a Bible, if you have one verse memorized or if you are a follower of Christ that is breathing you can disciple [1 Corinthians 11:1]. Sharing the gospel is enough.
“I am worried I will lead other followers astray.” If you stick to the Word of God and teach the truth therein you are not accountable for how others respond to God [2 Timothy 3:16-17, 4:1ff]. Speak the truth in love. Even your struggle with sin is a great teacher [Colossians 3:13; Philippians 3:12-13]. Authentic followers attract more followers than they distract.
Following Christ is learning what it means to live your whole life in light of the gospel of Jesus. Living as a follower of Jesus is learning how to live in the reality of this new life you’ve been given through faith in the gospel. Not that it’s easy, or without pain or cost. The joy and excitement of living in light of all that God promises in the gospel outweighs any pain or cost.
7 thoughts on “lies we believe about following Christ”
I would like to contest your example of: “I can grow on my own”
at first granted I was huh, best be reading the provided scriptures, and i did, and of course I came up with:
‘…And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God….’
I’ve very curious how you came up with that premise, especially based upon that particular passage of scripture.
Granted, I can admit that it isn’t easy, but it is possible. For about 8 years I was sent around by God to this place and that place, and I never knew what I was walking into, but I was wholly devoted and obedient. He would say, ok go to this town in Texas, and i’d go, without a clue as to what i would do when i arrived, nor a clue as to what it was he was sending me to do, according to his requirements.
Yet in each case, I had a job which landed in my lap without looking, and a place to live, without any effort. Then each day, I woke up, and did what I was told, and in some cases, I would just go on what I would call a ‘walk of faith’ and just let the day unfold.
I always ran into people who were looking for Him, or had questions or had been beaten down by some denomination, and to make things worse, when I did make an effort to participate, because it was good to plug new believers into local congregations, the leaders in those congregations would lose their minds on me, and be angry and be filled with hate, because I wasn’t “under someone’s authority” and to be quite frank, the congregations did more to damage the work that God had done in the lives of whomever I was sent to meet, then they did good.
Also, there are lots of examples in the scriptures, both the old covenant, and the new covenant, where individuals, moved about from place to place, and did God’s bidding, without needing a secondary individual or to be plugged into ‘a body of believers’ as it is generally roted as being.
Now, I did communicate with a set of believers via email, telephone and so on, but i wasn’t ‘communing’ with them, as is indicated by that particular section.
I’ve set myself up to be notified when you post a response, and if for some reason the emails don’t follow through, you may contact me at email@example.com
I would contest my own post and poor use of Scripture too. Thank you for questioning the verse. Luke 9:23-27, in context is relating more to following Christ daily by denying self and relentlessly pursuing Christ.
When writing this post I had in mind Luke 9:57-62 [which I have updated in the post and included other supporting texts]. In this passage, a few individuals approach Jesus about wanting to follow Him. Jesus puts the brakes on their idea of followership and desires their understanding to be a total life commitment. Again, this verse does not adequately convey what I am meaning to say. What I mean by the phrase, “We cannot grow alone.” is that once we become believers in Christ we are: Identified with Christ as His follower [1 Corinthians 12:27], adopted into the body of Christ [Romans 8:12-17], and we are contributors to the body [1 Corinthians 12:12-26]. If we do not contribute we are not growing [Ephesians 4:14-16; Romans 12:3-13]. If we are not plugged into a local church and sharing the gifts God has bestowed on us, we are not living obediently within the organism God has called us to be a member [cf. Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:11-16].
Now I understand, not all churches are suitable for growth. There are denominational divisions, church politics have cause some to abandon the church, and church leaders may be restricting growth for whatever selfish or sinful reason. However, God says we are to submit to biblical authorities in our lives [Romans 13:1-2, which is not assuming all leaders are godly or good]. I do know of some missionaries serving overseas that do not have a church to attend and contribute to in their region, but they are accountable and under the authority of a church back in the States. The Bible is clear, it is dangerous and unhealthy to be disconnected from God’s church.
I am currently doing a study on authority issues which I will post in a 3-weeks succession.
Saying it in a sentence: I cannot grow on my own [for long], rather I must be connected to a church where I am contributing to the Body of Christ.
I would be interested in seeing some of the verses you mention as those who were growing “without needing a secondary individual or to be plugged into ‘a body of believers'”?
well actually, i’ll give you specific individuals, and you can just follow the road they walked.
Moses, Joseph, Daniel, David (do not mistake the rebuke through Nathan as being accountable to a ‘church’ since he was being rebuked and punished directly by God).
Paul (he didn’t ‘plug in’ to a body of beleivers, he led those groups, which is distinctly different then being held accountable to them, though it could be argued that he (paul) did guide and rebuke Peter, and the rest of the disciples).
Every single Prophet – directly to God, and not managed by any church.
Everyone is given a measure of faith, and power, and the facts of only the 66 books of the canon or filled with men, who were directly answerable to God, and not a church of any sort.
one of my major problems with denominational religions, and congregations, is that they feel empowered to supersede the reality of what God has already declared, modifying it to suit their own needs, then using an assortment of ‘verses’ to validate their declarations.
you see, nationalism, and serving God are a contradiction. When a flag is raised in equality with a faith, then the faith loses it’s value. Because the flag, will be waved, with scriptures being quoted. Not truly serving God in my opinion.
I do agree that the service to God is a life commitment. I declaration that all aspects of life, death, existence, events, and thoughts, are to be directed by God, for God, without questioning.
I have never yet ever, not attempted to plug in to any congregation, where the leaders in that congregation felt it their duty and right, to prevent me from doing God’s work, because it superseded their power over the individual, when instead they should have been the ones supporting those individuals, and God shouldn’t have needed to send me to them.
Linear thinking, breeds linear results.
Religion, breeds restriction.
God is free, and free absolutely.
Because all things are acceptable, though not all profitable.
Thanks for taking the time to respond. This is a valuable discussion. I appreciate you articulating your opinions, but I do think it poses more questions than answers.
I do agree that the prophets and Old Testament saints you mentioned are good examples of being spokesmen for God by God and at times loners. But the questions I have is: Who were these men ultimately accountable to? [you mentioned God, which I agree] Whose authority were they under? [again, God, and I agree] The rebuke between David and Nathan or Samuel and Saul [cf. 1 Samuel 13, 15] is a good example of God being the authority, but who did God use to convey His message? What was the consequence for not listening to the prophets of God [see Isaiah, Jeremiah or other OT prophetical books]?
Now I need to make sure I understand your definition for church? Was there a church in the days of Moses, David, Daniel or Joseph? From my understanding of the Scripture Jesus established the church after His death and resurrection to carry on being His Body to the world [cf. Matthew 28:19-20 & Acts 1-2].
Now with the apostle Paul I have another set of questions: Do you find any examples in the Bible where Paul is not accountable to a local church post-conversion? Do you know of any passages that Paul uses to tell people not to be connected or accountable to a local church? When does Paul not promote the church [1 Cor.14:12]? What do you say to James, Timothy, Titus and others who were pastors of churches carrying on the commission of Jesus through His church? This leads me to ask, who established the church? Whose lead do we follow within the church? If we take ourselves outside the authority of His church what are the consequences?
Now I am guessing, but it seems that your beef is with denominationalism or or any organized religious systems. Is this correct? I too have some beefs there too, primarily because have been burned or frustrated by their power/control struggles, illegal, immoral and unbiblical practices therein. Is there a perfect church? No. Were the prophets of old perfect? No. But does God use them for His glory? Are we commanded to submit to their authority? [cf. Hebrews 19-25] If God commands the church shouldn’t we obey [cf. John 14:21; 15:10, 14; 13:17]? Does God give us a means of how to respond to authorities He has placed over us who are not following through with His commands? I would challenge you to search the New Testament Scriptures to defend your opinions.
From my biblical understanding the Church is NOT…
• …a loose affiliation of people who hold roughly the same religious beliefs, no matter what those beliefs might be. I’m not joining a religious club when I join a church.
• …a building. A building is simply a place to meet. I’m not going to an exclusive clubhouse when I go to church.
• …a non-profit organization with a clear vision statement and lucid objectives. I’m not joining an altruistic or philanthropic society when I join a church.
The Church IS…
• …a regular assembly of people who profess and give evidence that they have been
saved by God’s grace alone, for His glory alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
• …a local, living, and loving collection of people who are committed to Christ and committed to each other.
• …a display of God’s wisdom and glory (Eph 3:10).
• …a display of counter-cultural, Christ-like love (John 13:35).
justin, i do like the post; like the thinking. you start this post with a real emphasis on following Jesus–you underscore the importance of a real relationship with him. that’s what it really is all about, isn’t it? relationally “following” Jesus in a personal and vital and evidential/experiential way. rooted in the text of Scripture and dependent on the Spirit’s work–but really relating to him. seeing you post thoughts along these lines, when i came to the end of this particular post, you left me with a question. you end up, in the last paragraph, seemingly drifting in the direction of getting the truth of the gospel right (which, obviously, is critical!) but i was waiting for the “to this end.” that is, we must get the gospel right so that we come to see Jesus rightly so that we can live in relationship with him! searching the Scriptures because in them we think we have life apart from that search driving us to the person of Jesus himself leaves us a bit short of what i am coming to see “following Jesus” is all about. i really think we are singing from the same song sheet on these things . . . just thinking out loud about where this particular post ended. thoughts? grace, summathetes
ok, for me personally, I’ll define what i consider church. Firstly though I have to define religion, and as was stated (I believe in James, but not 100% on that), where the only good religion, is the caring of orphans and widows.
Also, in my personal experience within congregations, which define themselves as “the church” I personally tend to find more of an amyway marketing, warm fuzzy feel good rhetoric, and manipulation of doctrine which tend to validate current social dynamics and state; vis-a-vis government; attitudes, which obviously have little to do with God, or the pursuit of perfection within the concepts of Christ’s teaching.
Paul, from all that I read, and all that the Lord allowed me to understand, didn’t state a single thing about forsaking of the assembly for the sake of lifting each other up, and support, as well as a continuation within the discussions of the teachings of Christ, with a referential understanding of the books from which Christ taught and expressed, which we of course call now, the old testament.
Yet, today, in our modern day “church” it isn’t anything but bake sales, watered down “listen to me tell you of the glory of god” and a bevy of televisions, video, and rock bands on stage.
Which to me, in all of it’s glamour and VH1 stylized demonstrations, has nothing to do with God. It’s a show. To me, that is what “church” now means.
Basically the format is simple. 20 minutes of “praises” using an overhead, 20 minutes of “God is good, and we are kings and queens through Christ” precluded with some mantra of “this is my bible…” (which in and of itself is idolatry, since we’re to worship God through the spirit of God and the bible in and of itself is meant to be a reference utility, not the item we worship), finally followed by “communion” and line up in the rows, so you can have hand’s laid upon you for this or that, or whatever…
That is not Church. That is a show. That is simply nothing more then a McDonald’s drive through, and yes you can get fries with that.
I have, and will always forsake that, if it is considered the “assembly” because in my experience with God, and being led by God’s Spirit, never required any pre-formatted, bottled, packaged, relationship.
Anymore, then it would be a relationship, if my wife and I, met every night for 20 minutes, did the ‘how was your day” and then ate “dinner” sitting politely across from each other, pretending to have a marriage, then moving to seperate rooms, or computers to carry on with our night, before the customary kiss on the cheek and lights out.
That isn’t a marriage anymore then church, in this day and age, is church.
So, now that I’ve described what I see, I will describe what Church is, by my experience.
It is sitting there, with one or two people, maybe 20 or 30 people, depending on what the Spirit of God creates, in an inpromptu meeting, and we choose to worship the Lord, and all of a sudden, 3 or 5 hours have passed, while some continue to praise, since that is how they commune with the Lord, and others have broken off, to discuss what the Lord showed them individually through this or that certain passage of scripture, because of this or that happening within their lives at some particular time in their life, and yes, even those few folks that fall asleep on the window ledge, and fall to the street below, so someone has to go down, and rise that dead body, because the Lord is present in that situation.
That is my experience.
That is my relationship with God, and the people I meet in my life, whom God has chosen and decided are to be in my life, where I can learn from each of them, and each of them has or might learn from me, since the body is equal, and no single individual is greater then any other individual.
There is a grave danger to taking the scriptures in a literal interpretation and then applying them to this day and age.
There are simple realities which make that danger, and which open up individuals, and entire congregations to the infection of deceit by the enemy, because a group of individuals have put all their faith in trust in the one or two people who get to stand at the front, on a podium, with the microphone.
Here is an example of a reality.
How do you think Isaiah described an ICBM? How do you think he described a tank, or a fighter plane?
He has no reference point. There is nothing within his personal experience as a man on earth, with the technology in that day and age, to prepare him at all, for what he is shown in a vision. I know this for a fact, because the Lord has shown me things in visions, which I have no experience with in my life no matter what knowledge is available to me, which I know, would be misinterpreted if I had written them down, for those generations which will come here, 100’s of years, after my great great great great grandchildren are dead.
That is something to consider. It is never a good idea to be so heavenly minded, that one becomes no earthly good.
If you want to test this theory, find sheep. the actual sheep. Sit there and watch them for a few hours. They don’t even recognize the voice of the shepard, and they won’t come running. they won’t even look up to stop chewing. they will fall into pits, and off cliffs, and when they hit the fence line, they will turn left or right, and never lift their heads, yet, there is so much rhethoric about “shepperding my flock” and various pretentions as to what a pastor is doing and is placed witihin.
I can tell you for a fact, that no person was ever “called” by God in any dynamic. There isn’t a single scriptural reference to support it, however, every reference where God decided to use one of us pathetic little human beings, and we were dragged kicking and screaming.
Religion supports state. so it can not be from God. church supports society, so it has nothing in common with God.
I hope I have clarified myself.
here is a quick statement within my blog, to give you a full understanding of what the Lord did to me and yes, he dragged me, kicking and screaming…