Throughout the Bible, men were called to follow God.
Abraham followed God and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. Moses followed a pillar of fire and smoke to get to the Promised Land. David followed God from the sheep fields into the battlefield. The disciples followed Jesus and became fishers of men. But how do we follow Jesus today?
Many people equate following Jesus with adhering to a system of rules and restrictions established by religious organizations.
“I follow Jesus by not swearing, not drinking, not looking at porn.” Christianity becomes a measuring contest—“I wake up every morning at 4 AM to spend an hour reading the Bible. What do you do?” Religion says you must be this tall, or wear these clothes, to do or not do these things in order to be called a Christian.
So, what happens when you mess up and break the rules? What happens when you don’t do all the things the “holy” person does? We feel like failures. We can never achieve the perfection we see in other men and know we will never measure up. All those do’s and don’ts feel oppressive and we are weighed down by all the ways we fall short. Jesus said he came to set the captive free. It can seem like we went from being chained by sin to being chained by the rules of religion. Did Jesus come simply to exchange our chains? Where is the abundant life? Where is the love, joy, peace and patience?
Is this really what following Jesus means?
Following Jesus has little to do with tasks and obligations of religion, but is completely based on a relationship with a living Savior. Instead of being constrained with the burden of the law, we find life and joy as we walk with Jesus. We focus on what He did for us, and realize the freedom of grace. Instead of focusing on what we do and striving for an unattainable perfection in ourselves and others, we find that everyone is welcome. There is no more competition, no more measuring.
Everyone is invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Where religion brings suffocation, relationship brings fresh air. Religion focuses on the law. Relationship focuses on the grace. When religion strives to prove I’m better because of what I do, relationship is about who I am in Jesus, and taking the lowest seat with joy. Religion keeps people out, but relationship brings everyone in.
Which one did Jesus come to bring? Which one sounds like binding up the brokenhearted, freedom for captives, release from darkness? Which one sounds like good news? Which one are you living in?