Many think if a person believes in Jesus and lives a righteous life, that is enough. Not so. Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Mark 8:34. We deny our own wills, bear opposition, and follow Jesus’s example. The relationship is based on love, knowledge, and submission. At the same time, it is a joyful relationship!

Obedience is key to an effective relationship. Jesus said in John 14:21 (NLT), “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” 

There is much to learn in order to follow Jesus. We must study the Bible. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15. Understanding and living God’s word transforms us into mature Christians. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  

The heavenly calling requires self-denial, sacrifice, and obedience to God’s will. For example, righteous living would not require the Apostle Paul to suffer to serve God. 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 (NET), “… I am even more so: with much greater labors, with far more imprisonments, with more severe beatings, facing death many times.  Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes less one.  Three times I was beaten with a rod. Once I received a stoning. Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent adrift in the open sea. I have been …in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my own countrymen, in dangers from Gentiles…in hunger and thirst, many times without food, in cold and without enough clothing.”  

But it is the suffering as a result of obedience that grants us the victory. Hebrews 5:8-9, “…though He was a Son, yet He (Jesus) learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…” Remember: “…if children, also heirs ​– ​heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ ​– ​if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:17 (CSB)