This may be one of the most important questions you ask yourself. It is one I have been wrestling with for a while now. Why do you follow Jesus? Go ahead, take some time to think about it and see if you can come up with an answer. And since we are being honest, let's go ahead and throw those Sunday School answers out the window. Have you given it some thought? Do you have your answer? If so, feel free to read on.
We can all find our reasons for following in one (or more) of the reasons that follow.
A big one for the healthy and wealthy of the United States (which includes just about all of us in comparison to the rest of the world) is for the perks. I believe there is an overwhelming majority of us who follow God for the blessings He bestows upon us. Since we are being honest and all, I think I can tell you this has been my reason on more than one occasion. Sadly, I have bargained with God before. Perhaps you can relate to this prayer, "If only you will __________ (feel free to fill in this blank with any number of things you want God to do), I will __________ (this blank is usually filled in with some sort of "obedient" behavior)."
It's pretty easy to get caught up in this. And it's even easier to follow when the blessings are flowing. But what happens when they dry up? When the foundations we have built our lives upon begin to crumble and erode? Will we still follow?
Maybe you are in it for the less temporal things. There is a good chance you follow him for the salvation he has offered. This seems like a pretty legitimate reason to most of the church, but it doesn't fool God. We can likely chalk this up to following him for our "Get Out of Hell Free" card. But, if this is the motivating factor, I might argue that the force driving our faith is fear.
Has anyone ever asked you "Where would you go if you were to die tonight?" That's a pretty intimidating question. While it may be a legitimate question, I don't feel it breeds true discipleship (just my opinion, feel free to disagree). Or perhaps, like me, you grew up in the church and were taught to fear God (yes, we are called to fear him--Proverbs 9:10--but we may have an unhealthy fear). To many of us, he is this cosmic killjoy waiting to punish us or damn us to hell for the wrongs we have committed. And I can understand how we fall into this pattern of thought when we are told to fear God, fear punishment, fear the world, etc. Let me assure you, this is not a proper view of God (or salvation).
Then again, there are some of us who follow to keep up an appearance. We believe that by doing or not doing certain things, we appear to have our life together. I guess we think it makes us appear more holy to others, ourselves, and to God. However, that is not the case. To God, appearances really don’t amount to much. Look back to the life of David. When Samuel came looking to anoint the next king, David’s father looked over him because of his appearance. Samuel worked his way through each of David’s brothers without anointing a king. It is there, in the midst of that story Scripture tells us: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height (being 5'4", I really love that part...hooray for us short guys!), for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Sometimes we have a leniency to treat church and faith like a night club. If you don't adhere to the dress code, you aren't getting in. That was never the case with Christ. He made no distinction based upon appearances. As a matter of fact, He was more against “spiritual” appearances as a means of righteousness than He was for them.
Perhaps, it could be that you follow because he has finally given you worth, significance and purpose. This too seems like a great reason to follow him; but unfortunately this misses the point as well. And this is a tough pill to swallow for all of us. Our worth, significance and purpose won't come until we follow, but they are not the reason to follow.
I have a feeling an overwhelming majority of us have ulterior motives most of the time. And, I can't really say I blame us. But the conclusion I have come to is these reasons will all disintegrate at some point with the ebb and flow of life. The realization I have come to is that the only way to follow is with a reckless abandonment, out of love. Any other reason is to miss the point! And to follow this way will lead to a full and abundant life.