We want to follow Jesus, but where is he leading? What is the payoff for following him? Is it being a better person? Is it life in heaven after we die? If you follow him, you won't have a pain-free life. But that's okay, because Jesus offers much more—a faith so strong it frees us from fear.
Religion says, Change and you can join us. Jesus says, Join us and you will change. There's a huge difference. Jesus doesn't expect you to be perfect. He just wants you to follow him. Being a sinner doesn't disqualify you from following him. Being an unbeliever doesn't disqualify you from following him. In fact, following almost always begins with taking one small step.
Jesus says to pray. Jesus says not to look over there. Jesus says to be nice. Jesus says to get up early and read your Bible. Lots of people think Christianity is all about doing what Jesus says. But what if doing what Jesus says isn't what Jesus says to do at all? Regardless of what you believe. Regardless of how you behave. Jesus invites you to follow him.
Few things are as repulsive as a leader, parent, boss, or politician who leverages influence for his or her benefit to the neglect of those he or she is responsible for. Few things are as inspiring as a leader who says no to himself or herself in order to say yes to those for whom he or she is responsible. So how can we lead well when authority is placed in our hands?
The way of God isn't appealing when we have been wronged by someone else. Our natural urge is to try to get even. We want to wrong the people who wrong us as a way of getting payback. That seems just. It seems fair. But does it solve anything? Maybe there’s a better way.
The way of God is most unappealing when we are angry, isolated, or afraid. That’s when we consider things we would never otherwise consider. It's when we feel compelled to do something . . . anything. But maybe there's a better way.