Why Don’t Christians Follow Jesus?

If you’re a Christian, do you feel like you’re really following Jesus? Are you satisfied with how you are living? Do you see and know people that you say, “Yes, they are really nailing it, and I want to be like them”? Are you looking for practical insight, rather than only theological concepts, like this current top hit for “how to follow Jesus”?

If you’re not a Christian, are you tired of Christians you know conveniently ignoring Jesus’ teachings? Do you wish somebody would just even try to walk the walk? Would you like to interact with someone who did?

Jesus calls his followers to drop their nets, to walk on water, to take up their crosses, to tell that mountain to move, to be meaningfully different from others.

But lots of Christians feel stuck and guilty—even leaders, pastors, authors, speakers, professors, “professionals”—not really following in the footsteps of Jesus or the hard calls we read in the Bible.

It’s time to be honest about that as Christians.

Let’s open up the conversation to people who have been burned by Christians.

Let’s listen to our critics, whose greatest critique is that we’re hypocritical.

Let’s take a hard look at our lives, drop the acts, and humbly seek grace, wisdom, and gumption from the Lord.

Let’s look to Scripture for our cues and then turn and exegete our own culture, too, naming the ways we’ve exchanged the former for the latter.

Let’s hear from our brothers and sisters in hard places, learning from others who may be forced to live a deeper discipleship than we have seen, one that befits followers of Jesus Christ.

Those are the commitments we made when we came back from a decade in Nicaragua, China, and South Africa. We came back to the U.S. two years ago and faced a mountain of questions of practical discipleship, identity, work, marriage, suffering, money, parenting, decision-making, community, and fear. Rachel Held Evans has written a little in this direction, and the comments show there’s conversation brewing. Francis Chan seems to agree that we don’t have many models. A lot of what’s written is about starting to follow Jesus (like this piece), rather than trudging along as a disciple–and it’s often a hard slog.

This Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down Without Settling (the book) tells how we have wrestled with these questions. We don’t have easy answers. But we tell stories from friends in hard places, and we think critically about culture here in the U.S. and how we are trying to follow Jesus here.

But we hit a stopping point for the writing—we had to send in a manuscript for the book. So we wrapped up what we could. But our process continues.

“How now do you want us to live here, Lord?”

We’re not nailing discipleship in the U.S., either. But our book and now this blog are parts of the conversation.

Please read a bit. Consider your life. Think about your people. Share it with your network. Jesus deserves more than we are currently giving him. And if you’re not a Christian, you’re welcome in the conversation–we need your perspective on life, faith, and ourselves.

We are looking forward to walking with you on this ordinary adventure.

Do you think Christians in the U.S. are really nailing discipleship? Why or why not?

  • http://LiveIntentionally.org @PaulSteinbrueck

    Looking forward to being a part of this conversation with you, Adam.

  • Angela Hougas

    No-because we are addicted to comfort-and we tend to follow Him just to the edge of discomfort and then watch from there. Like Indiana Jones-hoping to see the way before taking that leap of faith. We are also too independent in our behavior. We need each other but stay at arm’s length. We need to be more needy and more give-y with each other!

  • DavidR

    This is one of the great topics of Christian life, now and in the foreseeable future. But also in the past. It’s not that there are no models; it’s just that, for people in the mainstream, they’re kind of scary. Francis of Assisi, for instance: not just the little guy in the garden caressing the birds. He built his mission on following Jesus in the most literal and concrete sorts of ways, living without possessions, caring for the sick, shunning violence and reconciling quarrels. Can his way be translated into the 21st century? Or the Anabaptists: not just horses and buggies. The Amish, Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and other modern-day descendants of the Anabaptists have all been working for centuries on the basic Anabaptist insight: to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior, means to follow him in obedience, however difficult that may be. In the 16th century, others in the Reformation movement persecuted them for saying that the church should be separate from the state. Their refusal to take up arms got them persecuted in 20th-century America. Yet they have persisted in seeing discipleship as indispensable to Christian faith.

    So, my point: don’t forget to look backward as well as forward in seeking patterns for following Jesus. We’re not the first ones to get this idea!

    • Adam Jeske

      Well said, DavidR. Lots for us to remember and learn from the Church that has gone before us.