I think it would be helpful if I started this post off by describing what following Jesus does NOT look like because a lot of people have deceived themselves (and others!) into believing that they are actually born again believers without denying themselves.
Now if you are a professing Christian who is still being (or becoming), doing and/or having whatever YOU want, you are not a true follower of Jesus Christ.
“Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake and the gospel’s will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God]. For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world [with all its pleasures], and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul and eternal life [in God’s kingdom]? For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:34-38 (AMP)
I know we like to put a little Christian spin on the American dream but in order to follow Jesus we are required to give up any and everything in our hearts that this world esteems.
You can not establish yourself or preserve your life here on this earth and in heaven too. That is why the rich young ruler couldn’t follow Jesus and we are not an exception to the rule.
Do not be fooled by anyone’s vanity. Prestige and the abundance of possessions or “mammon” is worldly.
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure (lust of the flesh), a craving for everything we see (lust of the eye), and pride in our achievements and possessions (the pride of life). These are not from the Father, but are from this world. “
1 John 2:15-17
Wisdom does not lead us to pursue our own false sense of security. Contrary to what is being seen in the name of “ministry”, selfish ambition is ungodly.
“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and ungodly every kind.”
James 3:13-16 (NLT)
So what does following Jesus really look like?
First of all, following Jesus requires sacrifice. You can’t just “come as you are”. You have to REPENT and sell out of your old life!!
“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!’ “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.
Matthew 10:34-39 (NLT)
You see, we literally have to give up all that we have and all that we are to IN ORDER (as in first) to follow Jesus. Even when it comes down to ungodly family members! And personally, I believe that this is where true faith and true love for God kicks in. Like, do you really believe that Jesus is that worthy and that satisfying to abandon all you ever wanted or think you need? Do you really trust the sanctification process enough to endure when you’re looking crazy!? Because you will be looking crazy.
Following Jesus looks AND IS unorthodox. True followers of Jesus Christ do not conform to “church” because they’re able to discern between what is God and what is not.
They’re walking in (or with!) the light!
Jesus said that he is the light of the world and whoever follows him will not walk in darkness (John 8:12). And I can attest to this fact, your eyes will be opened! Sin is constantly being exposed in my life. So don’t think for one minute that you’re a “Christian” when there’s no conviction concerning sin/abominations.
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
1 John 1:5-7
Now, let’s examine our own lives. Are you truly following the leader?
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
2 Corinthians 13:5