Following Jesus means our daily lives are supposed to look different. No two Christian lives will ever look the same, but God says that all Christians will have some things in common. We all have the same goal — to love God, love others (Mark 12:30-31), and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). So how do we learn how to achieve the same goal? How do we learn to love God, love others, and make disciples? By spending time with God himself. We do this by praying and reading the Bible.
To be very clear, our salvation and sanctification (the process of becoming holy) come through Christ alone. We can do nothing to earn it, and these tasks should come from our praise and thanksgiving of what he has done for us, and not be another task we need to complete. God only asks that we try to become holy because he wants us to submit our lives to him, and when we submit our lives to him, we will automatically become holy. On the other hand, He asks us to do these things even when we don’t want to as a form of worship (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life is an excellent book about this) But they should never be done out of perceived forced obligation.
The bible is how we learn about God, and he says it is “alive and active”. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) It’s called the living word, because God speaks through it. Prayer is how we communicate with God, and something He tells us to do. “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
God asks Christians to submit their will to His: “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:50) He asks us to submit our will to His for; 1. Our good, because He knows what is best for us (since he created us); 2. Because it brings Him glory. If we believe God is good and we call ourselves Christians, we are called to bring God glory. Being uncomfortable bringing God glory usually means we either have an inadequate understanding of the greatness of our God or that we care too much about our own glory. Both are common, and both are wrong. Learning God’s will and submitting our will to His are daily steps we should take in our lives as christians. They’re baby steps we take and learn more and more about both as we grow in our faith.
Finally, we are called to make disciples. “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” (Mark 16:15) “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) It’s common to forget about this one, but this brings everything about our faith to a head. If we aren’t doing the previous things we discussed, we won’t care to do this command Jesus gave us. If we aren’t doing the things that mark a Christian life, we won’t be able to make disciples. Because if we don’t give ourselves time to spend directly with God, we won’t have the holy spirit to do the work through us.
Here is a summary of the basic things that mark a Christian life:
- Reading the Bible
- Learning God’s will, through the previous two
- Submitting our will to God’s because of our love for Him
- Teaching others what it means to be a disciple
- Above all, a love of God
Learning what it means to follow Jesus is a process, so we need to treat it like one. We should expect to spend our whole lives learning what it means and give ourselves grace when it feels like we’re taking too long to grow. These daily disciplines take time to learn to do consistently, so be patient with yourself when you forget to do them, or when you just don’t feel like doing them. Starting and stopping these is normal, so just start again. God knows we can’t suddenly be great at doing all of these things diligently. Our slow, steady growth is what God wants from us in our daily lives of following Him.