In some ways, we’ve relegated the Christian life to a moment of conversion, a lifting of our hand in a service with eyes closed and head bowed, when this moment is only the beginning of a beautiful, deep, and wide adventure full of twists and turns. Instead, after our moment of turning from our ways and turning to God, we often become consumers of the Christian life on our own terms. We look for a church that meets our needs and attend as regularly as possible, but if that church stops meeting our needs or offends us, we go and find another one, sometimes as easily as we buy a new pair of shoes.
We’ve got to ask ourselves, Since when did the church become all about us? There are social structures, systemic injustices, and corporate sins of the nations we are a part of that are in need of the transformation only the kingdom of heaven can bring. But as long as we are simply looking to be fed, entertained, and have only our needs met, the corporate needs of our communities go unnoticed, ignored, and neglected. True community is messy, but it is where sanctification, revelation, confrontation, activation, and transformation take place. When we try to follow Jesus on our own because “I’m the church and don’t need to go to church to be a part of it,” we miss out on the fullness of being part of a body—we miss out on becoming more like Christ as we rub shoulders with imperfect people who give us the opportunity to repent, forgive, and grow. Just as severed toes and limbs are useless and dead to the body, I’d go so far as to say that so are we when we run away from what we became a part of the moment we surrendered our lives to Jesus.
Following Jesus is a long game, an adventure that requires us to lay down our lives and follow Him daily but not out of a loveless obedience. We follow Him out of a knowing that we are so loved that our lives were worth dying for. As a result, we are saved and reconciled back to our created purpose, and then we willingly lay down our lives for others. When the good news of the gospel becomes a genuine reality for us, we stop faking it through religious obligation and begin to lovingly and passionately follow Jesus anywhere, anytime—no matter the cost.