“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
We often sing the song, “I have decided to follow Jesus,” but I don’t think that we know what it truly means to follow Him. There is no doubt that most believers have a desire to follow Jesus, but they don’t have the fortitude or commitment to follow Him. The phrase “follow me” means you must do several things.
First, following Christ means you must go behind Him. In other words, instead of trying to lead Christ, you must let Him lead you. You must stop trying to take control and let Him control you. You must stop trying to tell Christ where you think He should take you and allow Him to take you wherever He deems best.
Second, following Christ means that you will go along with Christ. In other words, it means that you are willing to get in the yoke with Christ to serve with Him. Many people want to follow Christ without sacrifice, but sacrifice is one of the key elements of following Christ.
Third, following Christ means to be in His shadow. This reminds me of Psalm 91:1, which implores the believer to spend time in the shadow of prayer with Christ. No matter how much good a believer does, if they have no prayer life, they are only following themselves and their feelings. You cannot follow Christ with spending time in prayer daily.
Fourth, following Christ means to conform to His image. You will become like whoever you follow; therefore, the more you follow Christ, the more your life will imitate Him. The Apostles were no doubt followers of Christ because their critics noted that they had been with Jesus. You won’t have to persuade people that you spend time with Jesus or that you are His follower because your life will mimic Christ as you conform to His image from following Him.
How can you accomplish following Christ? First, you will only follow Him by choosing to follow Him. It takes a commitment on your behalf to follow Jesus. Nobody has ever followed Christ without first committing themselves to do so. It is not going to be easy or popular to follow Christ; therefore, you are going to have to be committed to following Him.
Second, you must choose His cross daily. You will never find yourself in agreement with the popular crowd when you choose to follow Christ; instead, you will find that the crowd will often want to destroy you as you follow Him. There is sacrifice in following Christ. There is a cross that you must bear in following Christ. You must leave behind your problems and take up Christ’s cross if you are going to follow Him. Too many people want to tell everyone about their problems, but you must be willing to lay aside your problems to take up the cross of identifying with Christ if you are going to follow Him successfully.
Third, you will have to deny yourself to follow Christ. Your fears, worries and desires must all be denied if you are going to follow Christ. However, you will find life in denying yourself.
The key to following Christ is to DAILY make the decision to follow Him. Every day of your life you must choose to follow Christ. Yesterday’s choice to follow Christ will not suffice for today; you must choose to follow Christ every day.