In a conversation recently, someone shared their concern about a grown child who had been raised in church but left for college decades ago and lost all interest in the things of God. The person was quick to add that this child was “a believer.” As I pondered that phrase and reflected on similar stories worldwide, with different details, something became clear.
Believing is necessary, but it is only the beginning of faith. After all, in James 2:19, it says: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.” No, it isn’t enough just to believe. There must be action with it – that which sets it in motion. The verse just prior confirms it. James 2:18 “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
You see, Jesus didn’t just say, “Believe in Me.” He said repeatedly to all who would hear, “Follow Me.”
Matthew 4:19 Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.
Matthew 10:37-39 37 Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 16:24-25 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
John 1:43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
If Jesus felt the need to call others to follow Him, then we must follow Him and do likewise. When we share the gospel, we are to make it clear that Jesus calls us to believe in Him and follow Him – denying ourselves, losing our lives for His sake, loving Him more than anything or anyone else. Jesus never tried to make His message more palatable by simply asking His listeners to believe in Him. He called for followers then and He calls for followers now – those who will live as He lived, talk as He talked, walk as He walked. He wants those who will reflect His image to the world.
We are called to be followers of Jesus. Let’s call others to become followers of Jesus, too!