A couple weeks ago my pastor asked the question “Why do you follow Jesus?” He asked several of his close friends who are involved with the church, as well as a friend who is not a christian why she thinks people follow Jesus. He then put the question to us at Crossbridge. “Why do you follow Jesus?”
This question is something I have thought about before. I’ve heard non-christian friends say things like “Why would I go to church? I can help people and be a part of a community without going to church.” This question haunts me. How can someone see no value in something that is exceedingly important to me? That lead me to try to answer the question myself. How would I explain to someone why I think it’s important? Why not just donate to charity every now and then and have cookouts with your neighbors? I struggled to come up with an answer. Not because I don’t see value in following Jesus beyond the side benefits of being a part of a community that helps people, but because it’s something I kind of take for granted. I’ve never thought about how to explain it to someone who doesn’t already believe that Jesus is the son of God.
As I sat there that Sunday night and thought about it what came to mind is “I don’t know how else to live.” I don’t mean that in a light, dismissive sense. It’s not that it’s just what I’ve always done or just because that’s what I’ve been taught. I have plenty of friends who as far as I know live a happy life without following Jesus. I could never do that. To try and live with no regard to God or Jesus would feel as if I am living a lie. It would feel as if I were denying myself. I haven’t always felt this deeply, but the older I get and the more I examine and reexamine my beliefs, and the more I try to live the life I believe I am called to, the more I feel like it is a central part of who I am. It’s not some add-on to my life. I don’t follow Jesus as some sort of interesting hobby. The words of Peter in John 6:68-69 come to mind. Jesus preaches some strange sounding stuff and many people walk off. Jesus asks his disciples, are you going to leave too? “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
So why do I follow Jesus? First off, I truly believe that God exists, that he cares about us, and that he sent Jesus to make a way for us to have a relationship with him. I have seen God work in my life and in the lives of others. I believe the way of living laid out by him is the best way to live life. I believe to live apart from God would be a life half lived. I feel I need God to help me navigate a world full of pain and evil, as well as beauty and love. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have a perfect life. When life leaves me broken, I can go cry to God, and know I am not alone and all hope is not lost. I also believe we need community to help us grow and to support us and a community that also strives to follow Jesus is where I can find the deepest support as I try to do the same. Why do I follow Jesus? Where else would I go? Here is where I find life.