How Can I Be a True Follower of Christ
Learn how to correctly follow Christ and find the path to heaven and a life of peace
What is Following Christ?
Following Christ is much more involved than most understand. But if we don’t follow Christ correctly, how can we expect to be saved by Him?
“He [Jesus] teaches us that only those who have followed him along his way arrive at this kingdom.” –St. Cyprian
Following Christ means learning how to becoming a “TRUE Christian.”
Christ, when He walked upon earth, was the example of what a “true Christian” really is. Jesus told us most specifically to “follow Me” (Mark 8:34), for if we don’t “follow after me…[we are] not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life [will know how to find Eternal Life]” (John 8:12).
Therefore, if we want to be worthy of Christ and not live in darkness, we need to correctly follow Him.
Some Faith or a Saving Faith?
When we follow Christ correctly, we will grow into becoming a true Christian. We are not instantly a true Christian when we first recognize Jesus as Lord or even when we begin on our faith journey.
We must grow so we “may no longer be infants [in the faith]” (Ephesians 4:14), but we must “leave behind the basic teaching about Christ and [learn The Way so to] advance to maturity [a saving faith]” (Hebrews 6:1) if we want to obtain a true faith in Christ that saves.
Some have been deceived into thinking a saving faith is just recognizing that Jesus is Lord. The devils fully understand Jesus is the Son of Man, who suffered, died and rose again, for the forgiveness of sins, etc. The devils understand fact.
“An unclean demon…cried out in a loud voice…I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:33-34).
It is us people, who have hard time understanding reality, as we tend to doubt even God’s existence, since we lack experiences with Him. Much of the time, we live blinded from much of the truth, but not the devils. They know what saves us and what damns us. They know God and His Word. They have real first hand experiences with God. They know/believe He is real.
Therefore, believing that Christ is Lord surely isn’t all that is necessary for true belief/true discipleship with Christ, since the devils most certainly are dammed.
“You believe that God is one. You do well. [I tell you] Even the demons believe that and tremble [that isn’t enough; you must live the faith if you truly believe]” (James 2:19).
To obtain a saving faith, of course, we need to be baptized (reborn) and understand and believe (at least to some degree) the concepts in the Apostles Creed (the prayer that defines what we, who desire to be Christians, must believe), and have a real desire to follow Christ, so we can grow from our rebirth into maturity, which is the first step of belief towards a saving faith and towards true discipleship with Christ.
Seek to be Perfect–Like Christ
When we do deiced we want to be a true Christian and follow Christ we must not follow the majority of Christians, who are lost. Rather, we must follow the saints, who desired to perfectly follow Christ.
“When we look around today on the masses of Christian people, we marvel that such can belong to the chosen race…Christians reduce Christianity to a few exterior practices or even less. Except for these few practices, there is no difference between Christian and a pagan: neither greater decency in dress [simple, modest, no tight pants or reveiling clothing] nor more frugality in food [eating simple/plain food] nor more reserve in speech [not talking badly about others or saying things without purpose or for attention] nor more love of God [being willing to suffer and sacrifice (carry our crosses)] nor less attachment to the goods and pleasures of this world [leaving the pleasures of the world to be attached to God]…
[Tragically] He who created heaven and earth, angels and men, by His Word [directions/example to Heaven which was meant to save us] should have paid so great a price [suffering and death] only to have so poor a return [so few saved souls] from the greater number of Christians.”
–St. Claude de la Combiere
How can we say to Christ I want to follow You, but only a little and think we are going to obtain a saving faith? That would be ridiculous. We must seek to perfectly follow Him, by following the example of the saints
To live the faith and follow Christ–Our Savior–to Heaven, so to be one of the saved, we need to strive to “be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). True imitators of Christ. If we imitate Jesus, are we imitating a lukewarm Christian? Of course not. Did God show us the way to imperfection? Not at all.
“He said to him [the tax collector]: “Follow me.” This following meant imitating the pattern of His life –not just walking after Him.”
–St. Bede the Venerable
Jesus showed us how to give our all to love and obey God and be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. God expects us to have the goal of becoming a PERFECT CHRISTIAN–to perfectly Love God.
“This vocation to perfect love is not restricted to a small group of individuals [but all of us].”
–Pope St. John Paul II
Some think becoming a perfect Christian isn’t possible. But with that mind set, could we ever achieve such a goal if we felt it wasn’t even possible. Of course not. Would tell us to “become perfect as our heavenly father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), if we couldn’t obtain it? Of course not. Don’t believe the lie; it will prevent us from obtaining a saving faith.
Some saints became perfect Christians; we can too.
However a perfect Christian–someone who perfectly follows Christ/perfectly love’s God/someone who can’t choose to sin again–isn’t understood by most.
When we grow in faith–grace of God–to finally be able to perfectly love God, strangely, on occasion, we will still do what is wrong. Then we might ask, “How is this being a perfect Christian, since Christ never sinned?” Well, it is true Christ never sinned, but Christ never had original sin on His soul but we do.
Concupiscence–the inclination to sin, from Adam and Eve’s original sin (CCC #405, #418)–will always exist within us causing us to accidentally (not intentionally) “do what I [we] hate,” (Romans 7:15) even if we grow into perfection (not able to chose to sin again). Yes, we can obtain Christian Perfection and literally never choose to sin again, but even though we have such a great disdain for sin/perfect love of God, our nature will still “do what I [we] hate [sin]” (Romans 7:15), but it won’t be an actual sin [something we are accountable for) since we never chose the sin from having a liking for it .
But we can obtain enough faith to where we can perfectly follow Christ by choice. Imagine…never offending God again. Wow! That must be our goal, if we truly wish to love God. To learn more please read the article, “What is the Desire for Sin.”
St. Stephen, the first man noted in The Word to die for the faith, grew so much in faith that he became “filled with grace [perfect]” (Acts 6:8) and not able to choose to sin again before his death. Therefore, we can too.
The Word tells us over and over again to “stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34). Obeying God–His Word–is how we follow Christ. God will give us the grace to do this, if we can only learn how to accept it.
We must “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Believe With Our Actions
When we seek to imitate Christ correctly our belief will be well above just word alone because we will be obtaining much grace and changing daily which produces the fruits of righteousness: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). When we are following Christ correctly, we won’t bear just one of these fruits but God will give us all of them consistently in our life. Sure they will vary in the degree we have such gifts, and they will be growing towards perfection (being perfectly like Christ).
“By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16).
To begin in the faith, God plants a seed–a desire to follow Him–and if we respond to that seed well and the soil of our souls becomes tilled (removed of much sin) to become rich–that of righteousness–and it will “produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold” (Matthew 13:8).
These fruits will be especially noticeable during the cross (life’s challenges), like when others do us wrong or if we are burdened with inconveniences, illness or tragedy, etc…since everyone–even unbelievers–are loving, patient and don’t worry when things go the way they want. But we prove our faithfulness, if we are in fact following Christ, learning from our failures, changing and growing to live The Way when things go wrong (our crosses).
“If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners [those not saved] do the same” (Luke 6:33).
When we believe with our actions (are truly following Christ), and we are suffering, we are “rejoicing that they [we] had been found worthy to suffer” (Acts 5:41). This isn’t just some nice thought that we agree with; this is what we must do. This is how real followers of Christ respond to the cross–they rejoice!
“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit” (Luke 6:43).
Where as those Christians who aren’t true followers of Christ, and they produce rotten fruit. They love the way of the world loves; they have joy, peace, patience, kindness when things go their way; They are generosity only if it makes them feel good; They have faithfulness only on the outside, not the inside; They have gentleness only to those who are gentle to them; and They posses self-control only for worldly gain.”
Yes, the false Christian looks very much like a true Christian, but their reasons for why they do what they do is all wrong.
Those following Christ correctly, who are walking towards the Path of Life, “rejoice to the extent that you [we] partake of Christ’s suffering” (1 Peter 4:13), knowing that we are truly doing what Jesus did as He found joy in what He suffered knowing He was helping to save our souls(cf. Hebrews 12:2).
“If you are patient when you suffer [you will be blessed]…for to this you have been called [to suffer], because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps…[that] we might live for righteousness [goodness].” (1 Peter 2:20-24). This is how we truly follow Christ.
But if we suffer, we complain to others looking for self-pity and wishing we didn’t have the cross. We are far from rejoicing. We are far from The Way.
We must repent, seek God’s grace work to change so we can live for goodness and suffer in patience/joy for others, and bearing their injuries towards us, so we will truly love others and “rejoice in what I am suffering for you [to send others grace], and I [from suffering] fill up in my flesh [grace as well] what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions [what grace I didn’t gain from baptism], for the sake of his [Christ’s] body, which is the church [who we are to serve with this added grace]” (Colossians 1:24).
Therefore, to send grace to ourselves and others, we need to “do everything without grumbling or questioning” (Philippians 2:14)—accepting God’s will–whatever He allows to happen and offering up our suffering in union with Christ for souls. Then learn God’s lesson in the cross, change (remove any sin and/or do God’s will) and grow in faith (virtues of goodness: trust, love, joy, peace, patience, understanding, etc.).
With this true understanding of the faith being lived, the cross is no longer a stumbling block, something that causes stress and despair but rather it brings us much much joy, as we know God’s grace is bringing us into a saving faith and perfection.
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Sadly, many live very deceived in our faith and believe we are living the true faith from our prayers and works, but if we were to honestly look into how we respond to life’s crosses, we would clearly see we are not “being saved” by it’s “power” (1 Corinthians 1:18) and have much to grow since we don’t have the fruits of true righteousness when things go wrong.
Let’s say a loved one becomes gravely ill or we suffer any great cross, when we are still lacking much grace, from not truly following Christ nor removing sin, we fall into many signs of a lack of faith: worry, depression, anxiety, anger, insomnia, fear, and many stresses, etc. We greatly lack trust and our crosses tear us down; they don’t build us up into becoming like Christ as God intends.
“Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—in peace because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
We must humbly go to God to gain grace so to learn how to trust. But most don’t grow in peace and trust during suffering since we don’t really want to “pick up his [our] cross[es]” (Mark 8:34), we want to run from them, and as a result, we reject God’s transforming grace from the cross and lack peace from rejecting God’s law.
Truly, “Great peace have those who love your law [by following You–carrying our crosses]; nothing can make them stumble.” (Psalm 119:165). Until we come to follow Christ well and gain much trust/faith in Christ, we will suffer despair during life’s challenges–from great pain to small inconveniences alike.
Follow Jesus–Carry the Cross
When we want to correctly follow Christ, we know the cross is the Way to salvation and with every challenge, we surrender more and more of our will and grow and grow more in grace, wonderful trust and peace, and of course into Hisimage.
When we allow God’s fantastic grace to greatly live in us, we truly “consider it [suffering] all joy…when you [we] encounter various trials” (James 1:2-3). For true disciple’s the cross becomes a joy, an incredible blessing.
After we gain much faith, we will understand it is our crosses that are God’s greatest gifts to us. We will love all crosses not just the big ones but all of them. We will love how someone cuts us off in traffic, how we are running late to work, when we are ignored and not cared for, how we are misunderstood and treated with disrespect, how we can’t pay our bills. We will love how we had to work more than normal, how we had the flu, how are suffering from pain. We will love it all, bearing it all in peace as we thank God for all crosses–blessings…trusting in His great plan for our salvation through those crosses.
“Divine wisdom longs first of all for the suffering of the Cross” –St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church
Correct followers of Christ have grown in much grace and now know we are loving God and He is filling us and others with His love (grace) THROUGH THE CROSS. All of the “bad” that happens isn’t really “bad” at all. It is God’s gift to us to help save our souls. God allows nothing for our doom, if we trust in Him. Therefore, since we want God’s love for us and others, and we desire to love God more than seek our comfort and friendship from others, we will want and love the cross if we have the grace to believe. This–love of the cross–is real and for every Christian, if we want it. To learn more please read the article “How Can I Really Love God.”
Goodbye Old Self
In following Christ correctly our old sinful self will be leaving, one sin at a time, and we will be becoming like the One we are following–Jesus. We won’t be chasing after love and the pleasures of the world anymore; we will be “deny[ing] himself [ourselves]” (Luke 9:23) of such fruitless things and chasing after God, seeking to live for His will alone.
“Put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.” (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Our challenge is loose our deceptions that live within ourselves, as we think we are “godly” when we aren’t (finding our sinfulness), because for most, “I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere commitment to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Then enlightened to the truth, we can gain humility so to truly repent and work to change and grow in faith to actually follow Christ correctly so we can be one of Christ’s true followers and actually live the faith that saves and grow in wonderful peace. This will be hard work but loving God and our eternity is worth every effort.
“For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
How can we say we are a true Christian and following Christ if we don’t even want to truly live the faith, which is obeying all of the Word? We can’t.
How many sins are we really working daily with God’s grace to amend? Any? Those who love God, more than just in their thoughts, who don’t want to offend Him again, are striving to become true Christians by seeking God’s grace daily and working hard to live all of God’s Word.
We have to strive to fully live the faith too, if we wish to be saved by Christ. And that means we must strive to be perfect like Christ…which is done by working to remove ALL offences against Our Creator’s Sacred Heart of Love and carrying our crosses in His imitation. Not only did Jesus tell us this by His example, but He told us perfectly clear in His words too…“sin no more” (John 8:11).
“For to this you have been called…leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps” (1 Peter 2:21).
If we truly want to imitate Jesus, then He will step by step:
- enlighten us to our sins,
- lead us to how we need to change,
- strengthen us with His fantastic transforming grace,
- remove sin after sin,
- eliminate all of our liking for sin and attachments to the world,
- give us the ability to carry all of our crosses with joy,
- grow in humility and knowledge and wisdom of the faith,
- give us a true hatred/contrition for our sins.
Then we will embrace His saving grace instead of rejecting it for some miserable sin. Jesus will become Our Savior! We won’t be an example of how to live a life of sin to others any longer, but an example of how to grow towards the Light.
This is The Way to Heaven.
From accepting God’s grace, we will stop one sin at a time, growing in maturity in the faith, working towards perfection. If we don’t have the faith to do this, then our desire to live the faith simply is not true–as we prove we lack true sorrow and a saving faith by our lack of change.
“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves [thinking you we saved]. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres [to live it], and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.” (James 2:22, 25)
We must be willing to “give up [everything]…for the sake of my [Jesus’] name [everything that keeps us from perfectly loving God and we] will receive a hundred times more, and WILL INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE” (Matthew 19:29).
What Did the Saints Do?
The saints are wonderful examples of what is really necessary to follow Christ correctly. They successfully followed Him and obtained Heaven. They started out like you and me, with just a desire to follow Christ and then from seeking God’s grace correctly, they learned how to follow Him so well they not only obtained a saving faith, they grew to become wonderful images of Christ’s self-sacrificing love.
The saints have written a multitude of books to help guide us towards that goal (many of which you can find on this site). Some of them, at least one that I’m aware of, who lived outside of biblical times, St. Theresa of Lisieux, was even able to humble herself so perfectly, and follow Christ so well, she was able to obtain Christian perfection and not able to choose sin again. She gained perfect love of God as she clearly stated in her autobiography: “From that day [after I made my act of oblation] I have been penetrated and surrounded with love. Every moment this Merciful Love renews me and purifies me, leaving in my soul no trace of sin” (Story of a Soul, Chapter VIII).
She was just like St. Stephen, who became “filled with grace” ( ) too. Therefore, we should follow the saints’ examples, not the lukewarm teaching of others. The saints won’t mistakenly guide you wrong; they surely know The Way to Heaven. To learn more please read the article, “How to Become a Saint.”
Please don’t get caught into the devils trap and say “nobody can be perfect” so why bother trying. That is a trick from the devil to keep us complacent in our sinful ways, so we justify our sins and don’t truly strive to follow Christ perfectly. How can we wholehearted strive for something if we don’t even believe it is possible? It is possible to perfectly follow Christ…at least to become filled with so much grace we can no longer chose to sin.
By declaring what God calls us to do–to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11) as impossible, we are saying we DON’T BELIEVE IN HIM.
Jesus is the Word “the Word became Flesh” (John 1:14), and if we refuse to obey or don’t believe any of the Word, we reject Christ and don’t truly believe Him–His Word–as the Way to Heaven.
“Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day” (John 12:48).
If we believe all sin offends Our Creator’s Sacred Heart of Love–whom we are called to love and follow –whom our sins, “grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:6), surely our main goal in life would be to love God by seeking perfect obedience.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Anyone, who truly wants to love God, would not want to stay in any of our sins from our smallest to the greatest and seek to become a prefect saint since God’s Word tells us we are “called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2).
Truly, God can do anything. Jesus “takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29), if we allow Him. BELIEVE! Sure we will have a very hard time accepting enough of God’s grace so we can be completely filled with His love and stop sinning every sin, since we prefer our will to His so often, but it is most certainly possible. “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
We must leave our lukewarm way of life that leads to our doom and grow in faith to at least obtain a saving faith.
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another. But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, [even though we were dead, from His grace, we were reborn and now are growing into His image]…so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)
Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6) for those who truly want to follow Him to Heaven. He is Our Savior, who not only brought us forgiveness of our sins, but who also showed us how to live the faith (how to truly love) so to accept and keep His saving grace.
We need a faith that saves. Our Savior has been waiting our entire life to teach us how to grow in faith...a faith that loves God so much we will suffer or do anything so to not offend Him by a single sin…a faith that now instead of being complacent with so many sins, now has TRUE hatred and TRUE sorrow for all of our offences against Him, whom we now seek to love with all of our hearts. We might not make it to perfection but surely, from God’s great transforming grace, can make it to a saving faith. But we must seek to follow Him correctly so He can guide us away from our liking of sin into a true repentance. Truly, “He is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to [true] repentance [a saving faith]” (2 Peter 3:9).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him [enough to follow Him to Heaven] might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
We must fully realize, we are called as disciples, who must “clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 2:24). We must seek wholeheartedly to FOLLOW HIM–to strive for perfection–and grow from some sorrow for our sins into having TRULY SORRY for each and every sins when we fail to live the faith in order to have a faith that accepts His saving grace within our souls. To learn more please read, “What Are the Requirements of Salvation.”
“May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
This Path to Heaven we seek simply can’t be found without following Christ. Therefore, surrender our will and follow Jesus to Heaven. He is The Way!
To learn how to become perfect–a true Christian–please read, “How to Become A Saint.”
To learn how to stop sinning please read, “How to Stop Sinning.”
To learn more fully why so few Christians are saved please read, “Why So Few Christians Are Saved“