Believers and Followers

A friend was kind enough some time ago to teach me a lesson I need to never forget. She asked me an innocent question, and my response was answer enough to reveal the lesson I needed. “Is so-and-so a follower of Christ?” “So-and-so is a believer,” I responded. But that, of course, was not the question. “There is a difference between believers and followers,” she replied, fanning the fire I have for Christ even further. Believers in Christ and followers of Christ are one and the same, right?
A believer may also be a follower, but a believer is not automatically a follower. I, of all people, should know. When I came to faith in Christ in my 20s, I made a dangerous mistake. I believed in Jesus, but I did not follow Him. Doesn’t every believer follow Jesus? Actually, a good number of believers I meet in my daily life are decidedly not followers. Or, should I say, they are knowingly or unknowingly not followers. Some have clearly, consciously chosen not to follow Jesus because their flesh does not want to give up its comforts and pleasures. Others, I am sad to say, have no idea that believing and following are not one and the same.

In my case, after I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of my life, I had nobody in my life at the time to instruct me what following Jesus entailed. I did not have anybody to tell me that I needed to find a Bible-teaching church and pastor, immerse myself in the Body of Christ and have accountability with the Holy Spirit and fellow followers, and study and apply the Bible to my life. Nor did I have anybody to tell me that following Jesus would entail putting my fleshly desires aside to learn to live the way of the Lord.

Years later, I came to understand the life of a follower. There is simply no comparison. As a believer who did not follow Jesus, I was uninformed, unschooled, untaught, and unashamedly clueless about how to live my life. So I went back to the only life I knew.

As a follower, I am so hungry for the Lord I feel I can never get enough of Him. I have a deeply, personal, intimate, relationship with Jesus; an ever-growing desire to love and serve Him; and a deep-seated passion to share Him with the world at large. I can honestly say I know Jesus in a deeper way than I could have imagined possible, and I can equally say that He knows me. I wouldn’t go back to my old life for anything, and I wouldn’t trade in the life of a follower for that of merely a believer even if the pleasures of my old life try to look appealing.

I love Jesus too much to stop following Him. My hope is that the world around me will not settle for merely believing. Yes, there is a price to be paid with the decision to follow Jesus. But I would not have it any other way. And I pray, precious friends, that you make the same decision.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man]will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 KJV)

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