What Does It Mean to Follow Jesus?
Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
Many people are on a quest for “success” and “personal happiness” — at least according to how the world defines them. Our culture sets up for us models of wealthy, famous, well-dressed people and says that if we can just become like them, we’ll be happy. What Hollywood and professional sports project as “winners” are often just really unhappy and unfulfilled people.
The Bible has a different message. It says that we find happiness by following Christ into the life He has planned for us. The way to be happy is really to be joy-filled. Happiness is an emotion that comes and goes with our circumstances. Joy grows out of our identity in Christ, our sense of purpose, and our hope for the future.
The all-knowing, all-powerful God has a plan especially for you. In the book of Jeremiah, God assures His people, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11) When we gratefully walk the path He has planned for us, we will find fulfillment and true happiness. That doesn’t mean we can’t set goals and work toward attaining them. Instead, we seek God’s guidance when making our plans and setting our goals, walking obediently as each step becomes clear.
Let’s seek a joy-filled life by following Jesus: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’” (Matthew 16:24–26) God wants us to quit doing things our way and choose His way — the only way to everlasting life. There is no greater joy!
During this holiday season, how can you apply these verses to receiving the joy of our salvation?
“Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.” (Psalm 97:11)
“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6)
Suggestion for Prayer
If you’ve been seeking “success” and “personal happiness” by the world’s standards, trade them in for a lasting joy. Ask God to reveal His plan for you and begin following Him.
Jim Grassi, D. Min.