A Decision To Follow

Mike Focht 4/5/2024

Every true Christ-follower begins their walk with Jesus at a point. Now, it may seem simplistic to say we must decide to follow Christ, but if we think about it a little more we will see the real importance of a decision. For the original disciples, their decision to become a Christ-follower meant a noticeable change in their lives. 

   One of the dangers of our current times is that many people call themselves Christians without having made a conscious decision to follow Jesus. They unconsciously and somewhat dreamily move through life, making decisions about friendships, careers, entertainment, goals, and morals with little interaction with Jesus. They may not overtly deny or disobey Christ but are not seeking Him or obeying Him either. 

   When Matthew decided to follow Jesus, he left the tax collector’s booth and surrendered everything to pursue Jesus. Jesus directed him into his new friendships (as far as we know, he didn’t know any of the other disciples), career, lifestyle, goals, morals, and worship. His decision had a noticeable effect on every aspect of his life. Our decision to become a willing Christ-follower may not be as drastic, but it will undoubtedly be just as firm. 

   Every true Christ-follower must come to an actual time when a life-altering shift is consciously chosen. We must come to a place of surrender that includes our dreams, rights, goals, authority, and life. There must be a personal acceptance of a new paradigm. For Matthew, all this was summed up by the words, So he arose and followed him. 

   I admit that the specifics of this decision are hard to describe or define, but I will do my best to describe it. The practical reality of this decision is what I would call a perfection of priority. We choose to have our life be about Jesus. Jesus becomes our priority. Following Him, pursuing Him, seeking Him, obeying Him, and living for Him becomes the conscious priority over family, friends, career, comfort, and even death. 

   This shift happens in the mind, the will, and the heart. It may start with a deep emotion, or it may not. Whatever it feels like in our individual experience may be different, but what is not different is its effect on a Christ-follower’s life. However we experience it, its outcome is clear—Jesus becomes the object of our lives. 

   Please notice that I said this decision is the perfection of priority, not performance. It is very, very clear that the disciples of old were not perfect in their performance when they decided to surrender all and follow Christ. They still made plenty of mistakes along the way, but what didn’t change for them was their priority: to keep following Jesus. That deeper reality remained consistent. 

   The only disciple who never possessed that priority was Judas Iscariot. We are never truly Christ-followers if Jesus isn’t our priority. If Jesus is not our priority, then something or someone else is, and Jesus cannot be a partial priority. If we mainly follow Jesus but turn from Him and His commands when conflict comes, then we are in a perilous place. As Jesus stated so clearly, No one can serve two masters. 

   Shifting priorities is one of the leading causes of so much weakness, distance, hypocrisy, and fluctuation in the lives of those who would call themselves Christians. Many Christians live to escape hell, or maybe a little better, escape earth. Those goals are different than living in pursuit of Jesus! 

   Our deceptive hearts seek to pursue something else while remaining in partial connection to Christ. We want Christ to be involved in certain areas of our life, not others, or we want Christ to lead us so far but not too far. We want to claim certain things Christ says and does but not all that Christ says and does. We want Christ in proximity but not in priority. 

   This will never do. The path to making Christ first is to repent of our double-mindedness and confess the fear and weakness of our hearts. Christ is gracious to strengthen us, cleanse us, and lead us. Jesus Christ is not expecting our perfection. He didn’t expect that from Peter, or John, or Matthew. Even so, Jesus does expect to be our priority. The call, Follow Me, is the call to make Him first in everything. Have we decided to follow Jesus?

   Deciding to follow Jesus means we must surrender our priorities to Jesus. Jesus Christ must be our Master and Lord. He already is our Master and Lord whether we like it or not, so it would do us well and please Him well if we embraced that fact on this side of eternity. We cannot truly be Christ-followers without sincerely deciding to put Him first.