Of course, one look at the original disciples and a person’s claim “to follow Christ” may seem less like a chest-thump and more like a confession. Did Peter and James, Mary and Martha have all the answers? No. Did they come across as small-minded? Frequently. Were they steadfast? Well, other than the occasional denial; and, oh yes, one out-and-out betrayal…
Ok, clearly discipleship does not guarantee unvarying obedience. So what is it? Why follow?
Personally, I am trying to follow Jesus because I believe that Christianity makes sense of the world: of who people are; the mistakes that we make, and make again; the brokenness that we embody; and then, it offers the most hopeful picture of what we might become that I have ever encountered.
I believe because (while I have seen silly things, nasty things, awful things done in the name of religion) I have also witnessed incredibly noble, brave, self-sacrificial things accomplished because of people’s faith. While I cannot put these things on some galactic scale and prove that the good done by Christians outweighs the bad, I feel in my bones that it does. In any case, I trust, in the end, that it is not a surplus of good works tipping the scales that will save the world, but the actions of the loving God whom we see reflected in our Savior’s face.
I believe because I have never encountered anything so terrible and so beautiful and so true as the story of Jesus of Nazareth. If any story is worth telling, it is that one, and if any One is worth praising, it is the God proclaimed to us by Mary’s son.