What does it mean to believe? The reality is that God is revealing himself to you every single day, who he is, and why you should follow him. Throughout the Bible, God keeps revealing himself, and calling out to his creation to do one thing: to believe him. Not to believe ourselves, not to believe our hearts, not to believe others, but to believe God’s words, that he is who he says he is.
While it’s easy to get going on the idea that there is something or someone amazing that we should believe in or trust because it’s going to affect our lives in this really positive way, it’s not nearly as easy to face the reality that a big part of the reason why we need to put our trust in something or someone else is because we have failed so miserably at it ourselves. If we truly, actually grasp the wrath of God and how seriously God expects us to take him, we will inevitably grieve all the times we have walked away, fought him, pushed him away, kept him at arm’s length. Grief that points us to our need for God will lead us to repent.
Jesus says, “if anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but however loses his life because of me will save it.” Jesus is not talking about some figurative cross here. This is not some metaphorical burden. It is choosing daily, moment by moment, to follow the ways and the paths of Jesus in love and service and sacrifice, whatever that may be. Following after Jesus means practicing the ways of Jesus. It means in the smallest, most insignificant moments of tomorrow, you choose following him over following something else. One opportunity at time. Take up your cross, daily, and follow.
When it comes to growing deeper with Jesus, your job is not to construct or manufacture our own spirituality. Your job is merely to garden, to cultivate, to invest time and energy and provide the right environment for your life with Jesus to grow. You cannot control how your spiritual life grows or where it will take you. You cannot determine what God is going to do with your life when you hand it over to him. But you have a role to play, to remain connected to the life-giver. Remaining with Jesus is the most actively passive thing you can do.
We are wired for community. Not to rule over it, not to suck life out of it, but to contribute to it—to share yourself and what you have in service to others. Your life was meant to be spent. Christianity is not an individualized religious system of belief. It is communal by nature. But sometimes our natural tendency to turn inward upon ourselves and our own needs and insecurities prevents us from experiencing life in Christ the way it was fully intended—together. And yet, you were made to be shared. Each one of us is an incredibly valuable component to the life of the church. The only limit to the life of a church is the limits we place on ourselves to participate.
The mission given to Jesus’ followers is to make more Jesus followers. Jesus says, “your old vocation, your old identity, was fisherman. You fished for your family, you fished for your money, you fished for your future, you fished for your life. Your new vocation, your new identity, is a fishermen of men.” In calling them to follow, Jesus calls them to reorient their entire identity, everything they know and believe about themselves, around a new vocation. When Jesus enters your life, he is calling you to the same thing. He is calling you to join with him on his mission, to be changed, and to multiply. Will you lay down your life so that others can live?