The most consistent invitation the Gospel writers attribute to Jesus is found in the plain words: "Follow me." This command is often found in conjunction with references to "taking up the cross" and to "dying" to one’s self. The implications are pretty plain if you know the place of the cross in the ancient world.

It never ceases to amaze me, over the course of decades of ministry in America, that so many preachers and everyday Christians miss this simple, frequently given, exhortation when it comes to inviting people to come to Christ. We have all kinds of formulas for telling people how to come to Christ but almost never do we actually tell people what Jesus plainly says about this matter.

N.T. Wright, in one of his frequent moments of insight into the text of the Gospels, suggests that Jesus’ invitation to faith and discipleship could best be summarized, at least in our culture, in these simple words: "Give up your own agenda and follow me!" I agree. If you would follow Christ now, and in this New Year, this is clearly what is required. I have resolved that in 2006 I will tell everyone I can, in public and private, that this is the simple essence of real faith and personal commitment to Jesus. If you want to be a real Christian you must "give up your own agenda and follow" Christ as revealed to your soul through Holy Scripture.