|Joseph M. Stowell wrote, “Relating
successfully to Christ begins by relating to him as followers. He doesn't
relate to us on any other turf. Yet we hear little about following.”
His book Following Christ begins by showing how the failure of Christians to follow Christ wholeheartedly turns non-Christians away from Christ.
To show the impact that is made by following Christ, he cites the example of early Christians. “Their Christian journey was just following—following that often cost them family, career, and even their lives. Yet their impact was incredible….The lifestyle of these followers was dramatically and productively different from the people around them. They loved and cared for one another. They cared for their enemies, even the worst of them….When asked why they were different, these early Christians testified that they were followers of the man called Christ, who gave them something so wonderful that they would never consider an alternative.”
The author completes Following Christ with the chapter, “Cross-Bearing.” He wrote, “If I refuse crosses, then I cannot be a follower; if I follow, then crosses are inevitable.” He defines cross-bearing as “a willing predisposition to the inevitability of suffering with Christ and for Christ.” He also reassures: “Crosses must always be seen in the balance of a life with Jesus Christ that has its seasons of joy, satisfaction, and relatively painless experiences. That reality helps to cushion the weight of the cross, but it is also the case that as we lift our eyes down the road there will be realities beyond the moment of the cross that will encourage us. Cross-bearing must always be seen in the perspective of the long view. There is something better for us than just a cross—something eternally better.”
Most of the book focuses on the positive results of following Christ. Following Christ is not about living a dreary, pain-filled existence. By pursuing a relationship with the living Christ, we gain a sense of purpose and an adventure that never ceases to excite.
He describes how to pursue that relationship through six disciplines; six character traits to imitate; and six “nets” that prevent a total commitment to following Christ. “Netlessness really boils down to a matter of values: Do we value our nets more than the Lord who calls us?”
The exhortation and instruction contained
in Following Christ by Joseph M. Stowell are essential for anyone
who desires to be a committed and devoted follower of Christ.