Last week I shared with you my own faith experience – the journey with Christ which started as a young child and has continued to this day. I admitted that my faith journey has been both rewarding and difficult.
So why have I continued with Jesus all these years? Let me explore that with you.
To start, I follow Jesus because it’s made sense to me intellectually.
For the open-minded thinker there are many reasons to believe, not only in God, but also in Jesus Christ. Some today love to portray Christians as simple-minded, but this is far from the truth. Read Christian literature, books like William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith or Craig Blomberg’s The Historical Reliability of the Gospels or any one of hundreds of other serious works and one can see that, agree with them or not, a lot of significant thought and argumentation has been generated to show the validity of the Bible’s teaching. While no one can completely prove the truth of Jesus Christ, I’ve been impressed by how many good reasons, both philosophical and historical, there are to believe in Jesus.
Second, I follow Jesus because of other believers.
My parents, in particular, led the way. They followed Jesus first. They shone the light of their own experience on me, influencing me to seek Jesus as well. For years I walked in their spiritual shadow, listening and learning. Without consciously trying, I watched them closely, as children do, noting how their formal beliefs affected their actual lives. Did their walk always match their talk? Of course not. Mine doesn’t either. But my parents took their faith seriously and tried to live it out. My mother, now in her mid-80’s, still cheerfully follows her Savior and reflects His ways with her gentle servant heart.
Third, I follow Jesus because His wisdom resonates with reality.
I’ve field-tested the teachings of Scripture in many life situations and found them beneficial in my everyday life. Even people who aren’t Christians attest to the common sense wisdom of certain biblical teachings. For example, the Bible teaches us to forgive, and forgiveness turns out to be a good idea. The same is true of many other biblical teachings-they work.
Fourth, I continue to follow Jesus because He’s transformed my life.
His teachings, combined with the help of God’s Spirit, have slowly become part of my spiritual DNA. Simply speaking, I’m no longer the man I used to be. I still have flaws, but God’s Spirit, working inside of me all these years, has made some real improvements. My gut responses are better now-more patient and kind, quicker to focus on others rather than myself, more able to forgive and let things go, less judgmental. I like the person God is making me. I like becoming more like Jesus.
Fifth, I follow Jesus because I want to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
Despite all the right-now benefits I’ve just mentioned, life on earth is still tough. All of us face disease, degeneration, and death. Sin, like a stinking, toxic rain, soaks every inch of this planet, leaching into every heart and home. Our world, for all its blessings, is still riven with pain and disappointment. That’s because it was never intended to be this way. God created a perfect world and we messed it up. One day, though, Jesus has promised to fix what’s broken. I follow Jesus because I desperately want to be a part of His eternal joy.
Sixth, I follow Jesus because I fear the alternative.
Some of you, perhaps, have been waiting for this one, and are surprised that I didn’t mention it sooner. According to the Bible, all of us really only have two options – we either follow Christ and reap the benefits or we reject Christ and face the penalties. There is no third, neutral position. The penalty for rejecting Christ is eternal separation from God in a nasty place called Hell. I have absolutely no desire to spend even one milli-second there.
Seventh, I follow Jesus because I want to enhance my world.
In Christ I’m a better husband, father, employee, neighbor and community member. His sweetness flows into everything I do. I want my children to have a father who loves them consistently and wisely; who loves and cherishes their mother. I want my employer to have an employee that they can trust, and one who brings a positive, caring spirit into the building. In other words, I want to bring light into my world, not darkness. Jesus helps me to do that.
Eighth, I follow Jesus because I love Him.
He’s everything I adore. Read the gospels and you’ll see what I mean. Jesus is loving, wise, patient, pure and strong beyond any human who ever lived. For my sake, and for yours, He left the prestige and comfort of Heaven, became one of us, and died a horribly painful death in our place. Now He represents us before the Father. One day He’ll return to take us to be with Him. Can you see why I’ve grown to love Him so deeply?
Ninth, I follow Jesus because my heart tells me that He is true.
Although I have many reasons for believing, the ultimate one is the inner testimony of my heart. Somehow, I just know what I know. I have an inner confidence that has stayed strong for many years despite all of the ways it’s been tested. This is the testimony of the Holy Spirit opening my spiritual eyes to the truth. One day He flipped on the light switch and it’s stayed on.
Obviously, each of these reasons could be explained and justified in greater depth. All I am trying to do here, in this short space, is to give you a snapshot of why I chose Jesus and why, over 56 years later, I still choose Him. His life has become my life and I have no desire to turn back. This isn’t merely about religion or about rules. It’s about gaining a vital, life-changing relationship with the most amazing man who ever walked this planet – Jesus, the God-man.