In a sermon I was watching recently, missionary Heidi Baker asked a simple question to the crowd of thousands of people that turned up to see her speak. As she took fifteen minutes of prayer with the congregation before her sermon directing their focus to Jesus she gently asked, “Why are you here?” Her goal may have been simply to remind the crowd that they were there for Jesus, not for her speaking. However, the question resonated deeply with me on many levels. And I’ve been asking myself every day since. “Why am I here? Why am I a Christian? Why am I following you, Jesus?”
This may sound like a dangerous question to ask, but I think knowing truth good or bad is never dangerous. Revelation is required for repentance. In Revelation 2:4 Jesus said to the church at Ephesus, though they were very obedient and active in doing good works, He was not pleased: ” Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first!” When you first decided to follow Jesus what did that feel like, what did that look like? Were you convinced anything was possible with Him? Were you willing to do anything for Him? Where did that get lost a long the way?
Or maybe if you grew up Christian or became Christian very young it is time to ask yourself, “Why am I here besides the traditions of my family?” Just because you know God is real is not enough. The Devil knows God is real and does not follow Him. The real question is “Why did you commit to following Him?” Simply take a second to evaluate where you are at in your faith walk and make sure your faith has not become simply religion (meaningless repetitive acts that don’t require much of a relationship with God). As I started asking this question and reminding myself why I am following Jesus, it has only fueled the flame of my passion.
I write this not for people who have fallen away from the Lord, but for those of us who maybe are still walking and talking like Christians on the outside, while our heart may not be in it like we used to be. Sometimes this happens because as we spend more time in the church our theology gets complicated and our thinking becomes religious, actually putting distance into our relationship with God as we put a book or a law between us and Him. We get really “smart” as Christians, but our hearts drift away from the one about the scriptures are written. In John 5:39 Jesus draws attention to this problem in the hearts of the Pharisees, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” If this is you, start praying that God would make you like a child again when it comes to Him.
Another reason Christians’ hearts sometimes drift into religious patterns and away from relationship is that life happens and we get bitter at God. Sometimes because we wrongly blame Him for the works of the devil and other times because the path gets steep and we get frustrated. Instead of leaning on His strength to get through it, we stop moving forward completely. We forget why we followed Christ to begin with. Even John the Baptist struggled with this one, but Jesus said to Him, “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matt 11:6). Are you offended with God? He’s not scared of your real feelings. Bring them before Him and start building that relationship again. Come with a humble heart ready to lay down your offense at God and be ready to hear things you may not want to hear.
This week I challenged someone who has been a Christian many years with this question: ” Why are you here? Why are you following Him?” They turned the question back on me. After pondering my answer for awhile, I responded, “Because He is good. Nothing else is good like He is.” My friend responded, “I thought you would say, ‘Because He makes you happy.’ I don’t know what to do because He isn’t making me happy.”
I responded that while He DOES make me joyful and often happy, sometimes things that are GOOD are not always happy in every moment. We see this even with our natural bodies. Eating healthy, working out, or even removing a painful sliver is not always happy or fun, but it’s good. So no, I don’t follow God because He makes me happy. Otherwise I would stop following Him as soon as I encountered something hard or uncomfortable! No, I follow God because He is good. In case you are having trouble seeing or believing in His goodness right now, I recommending reading my post God is a Shepherd not a Jailer. Sometimes walking with Him is a difficult path, but even the steepest paths become less and less difficult or uncomfortable when I learn to trust Him, when I learn to see with heaven’s perspective, and as I learn to simply enjoy the journey because of the privilege of being so incredibly close to Him as we go.
So I challenge you to take a second today to ask yourself, “Why am I here?”