If you have questions about what life as a Christian is supposed to look like, you’re not alone. Nearly everywhere you look, you can find someone or something that will show you what being a Jesus follower is all about. The problem is, these perspectives can be at odds with one another. You’ll hear different stories from your family members, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, the news, and your favorite TV shows and movies.
So, what is life as a Christian really supposed to look like? Let’s unpack three common myths about following Jesus and discover what it really means to be a Christian.
Myth #1: Being a Christian Means You’ve Figured This Faith Thing Out
Let’s be honest: Do any of us have anything in life totally figured out? No one is an immediate expert in any subject. And the people who have put in the time and effort to be considered experts are often the first to admit there’s always more to learn.
Still, there’s this idea that, if you’re a Christian, you’re supposed to automatically know all of the ins and outs of your faith. Maybe you’ve felt pressure to read all the way through the Bible, or to know the life stories of people like Moses, Ruth, David, Daniel, Mary, and Paul, or to understand big concepts in Christian theology.
While you might learn those things over time, none of that knowledge is a requirement for following Jesus. Following Jesus just means … following Jesus.
Truth #1: Being a Christian Means You’re Always Figuring Your Faith Out
Just as experts know there’s always more in their field to learn, Christians always have more to learn too. We’re all in the process of discovering more about what it looks like to follow Jesus, whether we’ve been a Christian for five days or for 50 years.
This means that our faith may change over time—which can feel a little scary at first. But it’s good to remember that faith is a thing that grows, and all things change as they grow. As we gain a deeper understanding of the Bible’s words and the context in which it was written, our understanding of parts of our faith—like the love of Jesus, His sacrifice for us, and God’s call on our lives—will deepen, and inevitably change, as well. Change isn’t something to fear. It’s just evidence that we’re still figuring our faith out.
Myth #2: Being a Christian Means You’re Always Nice All the Time
Okay, so we just established that being a Christian means you’re always figuring your faith out. Well, that doesn’t just apply to the way you think. It also applies to the way you act.
To many, Christians have a reputation for being holier-than-thou, goody-two-shoes who never do anything wrong. Regardless of whether or not Jesus followers are actually nice all the time, they’re supposed to be nice all the time. Right?
Truth #2: Being a Christian Means Loving Others the Same Way Jesus Loves Them
The answer is complicated, and it really comes down to your definition of the word “nice.” If by “nice,” you mean that Christians are supposed to love other people the same way Jesus loves us, then yes, we’re supposed to be nice all the time. But this love is something we learn and grow into over time. Just like kids who start out as “challenges” can learn to be kind, well-adjusted adults, we humans often start our spiritual journeys as flawed people, but learn to reflect the love of Jesus more and more over time.
But (and this is a big but) loving people the way Jesus loves us doesn’t always mean being “nice.” For Jesus, truth and justice never took a back seat to love. He held all three in perfect balance. That means He sometimes did things that wouldn’t be considered nice, like calling hypocritical leaders white-washed tombs (a bit of historical trash talk) and flipping over the tables of money changers who were interfering with worship at the temple.
Love means seeking the best for everyone. Sometimes that means being nice. And sometimes that means telling the truth and seeking justice. Following Jesus helps us better understand how we can live a life in pursuit of all three.
Myth #3: Becoming a Christian Is the Last Step in Your Faith Journey
So, let’s say, hypothetically, you’ve raised your hand at church and/or prayed the sinner’s prayer and/or have committed yourself to follow Jesus for the rest of your life.
First of all, congratulations! You’ve made the best decision you can make in this life.
Second, is there any chance you’re wondering … is that it? Is committing to follow Jesus the last step in my faith journey?
Well, uh … no.
Truth #3: Becoming a Christian Is One Step in Your Faith Journey
Making the choice to follow Jesus is one of many, many steps you’ll take as you continue in your faith. As we talked about earlier, being a Christian means you’re continually learning more about Jesus and how to love others as He does. But growing in your understanding of your faith and in your ability to love others well doesn’t just happen. Both happen as a result of steps you intentionally decide to take—intermingled with God working on you, typically through the struggles you face in life. You can learn more about growth through struggles in this You’ve Heard It Said episode.
So, you’re supposed to take steps in order to grow in your faith. How do you know what step you should take next? First, ask God to guide you. Then ask yourself some questions to help figure it out. Here are a few to get you started:
- Are there ways I know I’d like to grow, to become more like Jesus?
- Are there gaps in my understanding of my faith that I’d like to fill?
- Is there a cause that God has put on my heart that I’d like to do something about?
Your answers to those questions could point you in the right direction. If you’d like some additional help thinking about your next step, try asking friends or family members who follow Jesus, or someone at church. Sometimes it’s easier for other people to see ways we can grow than it is for us to see on our own.
Keep Seeking Jesus
There are still myths out there about what life as a Christian looks like. But hopefully you’re feeling encouraged that your faith will be a lifelong process of growth—just like it is for everyone else.
For more on how to follow Jesus, check out these helpful spiritual habits that can help you grow closer to God.