First steps in a Walk of Faith August 30, 2005 - by Henry Cloud
I remember when I was a new follower of Jesus. It was one of the most exciting times of my life. There was so much to learn, so much to understand, and so much to experience. I remember meeting so many new people as well, and feeling like "what am I doing here? These guys know how to do this and I am clueless." It was fresh, exhilarating, and at the same time a little overwhelming. Maybe you feel that way too, and if you do, here are some tips for you as you begin your journey.
First of all, the most important thing that you can keep in mind is that following Jesus has NOTHING to do with being religious, so don't feel like you all of a sudden have to go weird on all your friends and family. Sometimes we can have a preconceived picture of what it looks like to be a Christian, and then feel like we have to fit into that. When that happens, it can do a lot to spoil what God really wants to have with us. Being a Christian is not about keeping a bunch of rules, or trying to be good enough for God, or not being yourself, or fitting into some mold. It is about something much better.
Being a follower of Jesus is primarily about relationship, pure and simple. God desires two things above all else, and he referred to them as the two greatest commandments (see Matt: 22:36-39) They are "to love God and to love other people." So, don't let any of the noise around you confuse you about the two most important things in life: having a good relationship with God and with other people. That is the essence of what following Jesus is about. And when that happens, a ton of other great things happen as well, like finding your true self, finding your gifts and potentials, having God-sized dreams and being empowered to reach them, and having true purpose and meaning in life. It is such a great deal that the word "gospel" was used to describe it, which means "good news!"
So, unlike "self-help" programs, where you have to figure out life on your own, being a follower of Jesus is the opposite. It means that you never have to "do life" alone, ever again. Every minute, you can talk to God, ask Him for help, guidance, strength, wisdom, and resources. Or you can just hang out and talk about that beautiful sunset or the smog that is blocking it. He understands it all and wants to be with you, and guide you into the life he wants to create for you. And, you don't have to do life alone without other people either. God has given you a new family of other believers to connect with, figure out life with, and get help from as well.
Therefore, as the Bible says, "just as you have received Christ Jesus, continue to live in Him." (Col. 2:6) You received him by just simply putting your trust in him and beginning a relationship, and that is how to live in him each and every day. It is that simple, so keep that first and foremost in your mind, just connecting with God in an honest and simple way. Don't complicate it..No religion, just relationship. He is alive and with you, so just talk to Him.
And to connect with others, get in a small group, or some other tight-knit fellowship of other believers where you can get to knowother Christians and be known yourself at heart-felt levels. In that kind of community, God dwells in deep and discoverable ways.
Then lastly, learn more about Him by reading the Bible. It is His book that he wrote to you and will let you know what he is like, contrary to what you might have heard! Start by reading the Gospel of John, and you will get a good picture of Jesus and how much he loves you. Also, read a Psalm and a Proverb or two regularly and you will also see how involved in life God really is.
Welcome to the family! You are in for a great adventure, and the good thing is He will never let you down.