If you are attracted to Jesus and want to appropriate his good news to your life, how do you do that? What steps must you take? What commitments must you make?
It is Less Complex than Many People Think
Many believers think that to follow Jesus and have eternal life a ritual must take place in which one makes a decision to accept Jesus as their personal savior. Otherwise they will go to hell. Some believers require a formulaic ‘sinners prayer’; they think if a person has not performed this ritual their relationship with Jesus is questionable.
There is nothing wrong with ‘accepting Jesus as personal savior’, but there are difficulties with the described requirements. To begin with, there is no ‘hell’ or punishment awaiting anyone—and the Bible does not teach that there is.
Secondly, one’s relationship to Jesus does not depend on a specific moment of decision. There are many who cannot pinpoint such a decision in their lives, and yet they are believers as much as anyone. It is disrespectful of the Father’s love to question a person’s relationship this way.
Another misconception is that one must meet behavioral requirements to be acceptable. The New Testament shows Jesus to be tremendously inclusive; he understands our messed up lives and is eager to remove our burdens. There are no barriers to overcome or rituals to perform.
If we want to follow Jesus he is there for us. In Matthew chapter 11 he gives this invitation,
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
What is the Good News Anyway?
There are several aspects of the good news of Jesus.
He relieves our fear and alienation. Many think God is angry, strict in his expectations, and ready to punish us at our slightest mistake. Jesus shares with us that this is not so; instead the Father loves us freely and accepts us as we are. There is no reason to fear him or feel alienated from him; any alienation we may feel is on our side, not on the Father’s side.
He relieves our burden of guilt feelings. Because we are imperfect, we feel guilty for our failures, but Jesus knows our limitations. He is concerned about our shortcomings but is not disappointed in us. We need not improve ourselves to come to him; rather, when we come to him we begin to improve. This is a very rewarding experience.
He provides eternal life. The most remarkable thing we learn from Jesus is that he provides eternal life for us—we can live forever in happiness. This does not apply only to a select number; this applies to all of us!
Does this sound like good news to you? It is! If you want to know more about the good news of Jesus you can find a series of articles on the good news beginning with What is the Good News of Jesus Anyway?
What Must I do to Receive this Good News?
Do you wonder what you must do and what conditions you must meet to make this good news yours? The answer is that you need do nothing and there are no conditions to meet. Read Jesus’ invitation above once more. Just come to him and learn of him. As you learn of him, you will begin to change for the better.
What Rules Must I Follow?
Jesus has only one rule: to love others as you love yourself. This is the only standard of behavior. You may feel that you cannot love some people, or perhaps even yourself; but as you begin to comprehend the Father’s unconditional love for you, you begin to love yourself more.
This will cause you to notice, and begin avoiding, behaviors that are bad for you because you are concerned for your own well-being. As you learn from Jesus, you will choose better behaviors for yourself, but only you can determine what those are. No one has the authority to give you rules to follow.
As you realize the Father’s love for you and begin to love yourself more, you will also grow in the capacity to love others as you now love yourself. You will not become perfect in this, but you will enjoy a life of greater harmony with the Father, yourself, and others.
Identifying with Jesus and Learning More
Now that you have heard the good news of Jesus, you will want to identify with him in a concrete way. We do this by baptism; baptism is a public statement that we have identified with Jesus.
If this is all new to you, you may want more information about Jesus and his good news. There are resources right in your community and you can find them with a little searching. But if you wish to contact me personally, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this series:
Making the Good News of Jesus Your Own
Choosing to Identify with Jesus
Does Behavior Matter?
Loving God and Others Makes Rules Obsolete
A Delightful Insight into Behavior
Growing as a Follower of Jesus
What is the Good News of Jesus Anyway?
Welcome to the Good News of Jesus!