If you have already read my “About” page, then you know that this journey of following Christ has not been an easy one. But, then again, the bible never promises that this life will be free from trial and tribulation. In fact, Jesus promises us that “In this world [we] will have trouble” (John 16:33). Now, at this point you might be thinking, “Gee, sounds like fun. Thanks for the uplifting words. I can’t wait to get started on this journey. Sign me up now!” Before you get discouraged, let’s look at the last part of that same verse. Jesus goes on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
When we take the step to commit our lives to Christ, that does not magically remove any and all unpleasant circumstances from our lives. But, it does allow us to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit so that when we do face difficult situations we have the power, wisdom, and resources to make it through. Remember? The rest of that verse tells us that Jesus has “overcome the world.” In other words, He has already fought and won the battle for us. Therefore, when you make the decision to follow Him, you are already starting from a place of victory! Now, you ask, “How exactly do I become a Christ-follower?”
The process is not as complicated as people make it.
- The first thing you must do is realize that God loves you. In fact, He loves you so much that he allowed His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross for you! This was God’s way of providing you the opportunity to have your sins forgiven and to spend eternity in heaven with Him. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
- The second step is to acknowledge that you are a sinner and that this sin separates you from God. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
- Next, you must realize that if you continue to live in sin, without receiving this free gift of eternal life from God, then you are destined to live in hell for eternity. Yes, hell is a very real place. Mistakenly, we have portrayed Satan as this cute little figure wearing all red and toting a pitchfork around. We have also talked ourselves into this idea that hell is just a place that we may need to bring a fan and some extra water bottles to, but this could not be further from the truth. In contrast, you have the opportunity to accept God’s free gift of eternal life, and look forward to spending eternity in heaven. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
- Some people mistakenly think that they must “clean up their lives” before they can come to God. However, the bible tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. Notice that it does not say, “Christ died for those who give to the needy.” Or, “Christ died for those who never say a cuss word.” On the contrary! It says that even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Boiled down, this means that you can come to God just as you are. What a freeing concept!!
- “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” Ephesians 2:8-9. Another common misconception is that you can somehow earn this gift from God. Similar to the concept in #4, people believe that they can “work” their way to heaven. This manifests itself in many different ways. Some people believe if they are very involved in the activities of a church that this is what secures their salvation. Others believe that if they immerse themselves in helping those in the community who are less fortunate then this secures their “golden ticket” to heaven. However, we see from this verse that this gift is given by grace. Grace means “undeserved favor.” In other words, this gift is given with no strings attached. There is no need to jump through hoops or somehow “prove yourself worthy” in order to receive. Think about it. Do you require your children to perform to some high standard in order to be “eligible” for their Christmas or birthday gifts? No…this is a ludicrous idea! If you are a parent, you know the joy of giving gifts to your children despite their failures. Our heavenly Father is the same way with us…His children. Which leads us to #6.
- “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” John 1:12. When you receive Christ, this means that you believe that he is the one and only Son of God, and that he died on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins, and that after 3 days in the grave he rose again. Once you accept this, then you become a child of God! Jesus is standing at the door of your life knocking, but there is only a door knob on your side of the door. Only you can open that door and invite Him in.
You can invite Jesus into your life by praying a simple prayer like this from your heart: Dear Lord, I know that I am a sinner and that I am in need of your forgiveness. I acknowledge that without you I am sentenced to an eternity in hell, forever separated from you. I believe with all my heart that Christ died on the cross to take the penalty for my sins. And I believe that Jesus rose again and is alive with you right now. I commit to a life of obedience to you. Thank you for this free gift that I could not earn on my own. Thank you for loving me that much. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer just now I am so excited for you!! You have just made the most important decision of your entire life. There are some steps that you need to follow now that you are a child of God. You need to get involved in a bible-based church so that you can learn from other Christians who are more mature in their faith. Also, you need to get a bible and begin learning about what it looks like to be a Christ-follower. Don’t be discouraged when tough days come. Remember, we started this conversation by acknowledging that Christianity does not equal smooth sailing! Find some strong, mature Christians who can help you begin your new walk with the Lord. I would love to hear about your decision as well so that I can pray for and encourage you in this new journey, so please email me at email@example.com.