A few things right up front....
I think many churches and Christians believe they are following Jesus and are doing what Jesus has called them to be and do. But the fruit of their works reveals that something is missing. While I am sure that most Christians do believe that Jesus is their savior and that you must believe in Jesus, I believe that many fail to completely understand the commandments that Jesus has given us.
Obeying God and living for Jesus is more than not doing bad things and helping people who need help. It is more than going to church, singing songs, and listening to sermons. I believe that eternal life requires us to be reborn. Eternal life or living forever with Jesus requires us to die to our own selfish desires to be remade with our desires focused on serving Jesus. I believe that we can't live eternally unless we are willing to serve Jesus forever. I think that many Christians fail to recognize that they haven't fully submitted their entire lives to Jesus. They haven't given Jesus permission in their lives. They have not given God permission to do anything and everything necessary to transform them from who they are within their selfish desires into the person who will selflessly serve in love.
As the pastor of this church, I call the church to live based on the following foundation:
1. We will first love God. Mark 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (ESV)
2. We will learn to obey God. John 14:15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments.(ESV)
3. We will love others as Jesus has loved us. Mark 12:31 ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (ESV)
4. We will learn to coach others to follow Jesus and obey his commandments. Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (ESV)
The first step any person must make is acknowledging that God is real. If we believe that God does in fact exist, then it is logical that we would recognize God's holiness. As we learn more about God, we learn to praise and worship God, not just for what God has done for us but because God is worthy. We must move beyond a relationship where we are happy with God because we have what we want. We must be thankful and praise and worship God no matter what. We must move to a position of obedience that we desire only what God desires for us. The only way we can love God is by giving God permission in our lives to give us the ability to love him.
The second step, obedience, can only be accomplished once we have begun to love God within the power of the Holy Spirit. True love is not based on what someone can give us, but is based on God placing that love within our hearts. Many obey out of fear or out of hope of reward. True obedience is based on love. Therefore we can only completely obey God once we have fully submitted all that we are and have to God and have become dependent upon God. It is within that submissive position that we can then obey the commandments that Jesus has given us.
The third step can't happen until we have begun learning how to obey and love God. We can't even hope to love someone properly without the Holy Spirit giving us the love we need. Much of what we attribute to love is actually a response based on what someone is giving us. We love someone as long as they make us happy, as long as they make our lives easier. True love exists regardless of what we receive in return. In fact if we are to love like Jesus loved it requires us to be willing to lay down our lives in the hopes that Jesus will be revealed.
The fourth step won't happen until we have progressed through the first 3 steps. It isn't that we can't witness until we know everything or have reached some idea of Christian perfection, rather it is that it is difficult to teach what we do not know and have not experienced. We can teach what we are learning, but we must have some knowledge of the subject matter. As we learn to worship God through our love we are then able to help others come to know that God is worthy to be praised. As we learn to obey God we can then begin to teach others why it is important and how obedience impacts our ability to love God. As we learn to love others we can teach others how to also love someone through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are called to do all four of these steps. They are commandments of Jesus. In loving God and loving others we are obeying all of God's commandments. In obeying God we are building character and developing the ability to trust God. We can't do the first three without also doing the fourth step. If we neglect doing the fourth step then we are not living the first three steps.
We never fully complete each step and as we progress through each step we find our growth in that step both helping us grow in the previous step and dependent upon our growth in the previous step.
If you do not know God, then I suggest you take some time and ask God to reveal himself to you. It isn't that you will come face to face with God, but God makes himself known to each person. Once you know that God exists you must then begin to learn who God is and what God desires from us. As you learn this, I encourage you to give God permission in your life and commit yourself to following Jesus and serving Jesus. Join a body of believers (church). The church is meant to be the physical representation of Jesus. This isn't always true, but that is the way it is supposed to work. The church can help you learn more about God and help you give God permission in your life, so that God will begin to work in your life so that you are able to be who God created you to be.