The early church referred to itself as “the Way” before it adopted the label “Christian.” If we were to select a new name unfreighted by modern mischaracterizations, we could call ourselves “Jesus Followers.” But what does that mean? Glad you asked. Here are four ways you follow Jesus, found in His talk with Nicodemus (John 3).
1. You are born again. If you’re old enough, you recall that Jimmy Carter popularized this term. Chuck Colson wrote a book with that title. It comes from Jesus’ comment, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (v.3-8). Look, this doesn’t indicate a special category of Christian; rather, it is how Jesus explained a necessary spiritual transformation. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” He said. Paul explained this new life, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20).
2. You speak what you know. Jesus said, “We speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen” (v.9-12). You know that Jesus lived, died, and lived again. You know that in Christ, your life is transformed into what it never could be otherwise. You know His power to live on this earth and His promise of a home in heaven. You are an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20), joining God’s mission to reconcile the world to Himself.
3. You believe in Him. You demonstrate your faith in bridge engineers and airline pilots when traveling. You trust the grocery store and the restaurant when you eat their food. Belief is not a subjective conclusion about a fact. It is acting on that fact and accepting the consequences. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (v.13-18). Following Jesus means accepting who He said He is.
4. You practice the truth. “He who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (v.19-21). Human nature is selfish, prideful, and secretive. When you act sacrificially, humble yourself before God and people, and confess your sins, you are practicing the truth of God. When you love God and your neighbor, you practice truth. If this is the light you walk in, then that is evidence of God at work in you.
Spiritual transformation from darkness to light, death to life, is a mystery. But Jesus sent the Spirit of truth to guide you into all truth (John 16:13). Since the Spirit is like the wind, why don’t you let out your sails and see what adventure awaits you, a Jesus Follower?