We believe that committing yourself to follow Jesus is the best decision anyone can make.
The key here is 'committing yourself'. Following Jesus really does not work if you simply try it as an experiment, or because you know other people who do it.
The Bible says that committing yourself to Jesus is like getting married. It is still a good picture. Marriage is more than friendship. It is more than simply living together. But you will only discover this for yourself by taking the risk and committing yourself to someone who is prepared to work at making the marriage work for the two of you.
But Who is Jesus? He is the head of all creation. He is the chief, the boss, the lord. At present, large parts of creation are rebelling against their God, and Jesus is leading the fight to restore all things to their rightful head.
We are in the middle of a civil war, and there is no chance of sitting on the side-lines. We are either fighting for the rule of God, or we are fighting against Him.
So committing yorself to Jesus means far more than simply committing yourself to a person. It means committing yourself to fighting on His side, under His leadership. It means giving Him His rightful place in all things, as absolute Lord of the universe.
Whatever the difficulties of following Jesus here and now, one day His victory will be complete, and on that day it will become totally clear that committing yourself to fight on His side was the best decision anyone can ever make.
Of course, comitting yourself is one thing; following through on that commitment is another.
The analogy of marriage is a good one. When you get married, you commit yourself to be faithful to that one person for life. But this does not mean that you will never be tempted, or that you will never let each other down.
You may fail to live to to that commitment in many ways, both large and small. But these failures do not invalidate the commitment you made; they do not cancel the contract. Failure can be used as an excuse to give up, but it can also be a spur to re-commit and to try again.
On the one hand, nobody (really) expects a follower of Jesus to be perfect. On the other hand, we should be striving for perfection, even if we never expect to achieve it. And we believe that the Holy Spirit lives within His followers, to guide and empower them, so that they become capable of more than they can do on their own.
The main objection I hear is: with so many people leaving the church, how can you possibly claim that following Jesus is a good decision these days?
Firstly, I would like to comment on the number of people leaving the church.
It is true that surveys of church attendance in the UK show a significant fall over the last century, which speeded up in the last few decades. But these overall figures hide a number of very important details.
Secondly, please note the objection: it is the church that has been losing attendees. People rarely reject Jesus, once they have encountered Him. A large part of the Church in the UK needs a massive amount of work done. This is not the place to outline the scope and the scale of this work. But while the church may alienate and bore people, Jesus continues to fascinate and attract them. The good news is that there are an increasing number of churches where this Jesus can be encountered.
Followers of other religions will obviously suggest that following their path is a better alternative, but they have never actually presented me with any reasons why it is better.
The best an atheist can come up with, so far, is that their belief is not better than following Jesus, but at least it is true. I submit that following Jesus is not only better (in terms of a lifestyle here and now, and in building a better life for the future) but it is also a commitment to the truth and to discovering more of the truth wherever it may be found. Atheism is not only not better - it is also not true.
As always, if anyone wishes to submit any alternatives for me to respond to here, I would be very happy to receive them.