Jesus called his first disciples by saying, “Come follow me” see Matthew chapter 4 verse 19. Imagine if they had said, “Yes Lord” but then simply stood still. It sounds like an absurd idea but the truth is that Christians often do exactly that. They come to believe in Jesus and commit to following him but, at some point, they stop moving forward and just wait for him or one of his representatives to come to them. This spoon-feeding mentality is a recipe for spiritual stagnation.
God does not force people to love him or to follow him. He gave humans free will to choose for themselves where their priorities lie. Freedom is something we cherish in our society and rightly so. However, being free also means being responsible for the choices you make. So if following Jesus is a personal choice, then it is also a personal responsibility. We can’t blame anyone else if we’re provided with opportunities to grow in our faith but we choose not to respond to God’s call. The reality is that we live in an age of countless opportunities to get to know God more. There are more resources at our disposal than there were for any generation in history. The Bible is still the world’s bestselling book and we can even download it onto a mobile device and take it with us everywhere we go. There are countless reading plans, commentaries, and daily devotionals available to us. Courses like Alpha are taking place regularly all over the world, giving people a chance to explore the Christian faith for themselves and have their questions addressed. The internet is literally bursting with Christian content from videos to blogs, to podcasts, to apps and websites which are all designed to help you grow in faith and relationship with God. There are millions of Christian books available for us to buy or even download for free and public libraries often contain some Christian classics. There are Christian gatherings, prayer meetings, services, small groups, courses and seminars run by millions of churches globally. With all of these opportunities and so many more I haven’t mentioned constantly available to us, why is it that we so often feel that the onus for our discipleship is on someone else? It’s certainly not a Biblical idea.
Throughout the Bible, God encourages us to be deliberate about our actions. Sometimes we are encouraged to take the initiative. For example, “a prudent person gives thought to their steps” (proverbs chapter 14 verse 15). At other times we are encouraged to respond to God’s initiatives in our lives because, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” (Proverbs chapter 16 verse 9). Either way, we are encouraged to take the appropriate next step to move on from where we are to where we believe we need to be. We are responsible for our decisions to embrace or ignore the many opportunities God gives us to explore his kingdom, connect with him, partner with his church on his mission, and lead others to take their next steps of faith.
Taking next steps means actively pursuing a deeper relationship with God and others through continual and deliberate actions to keep growing in your faith.
What’s your next step? Find some great suggestions at www.andoverbaptist.org.uk/nextsteps