This book is a rollercoaster. This is transformational, I thought. Followed a few chapters later by: No, this is impossible and, yet later still: No, this is actually transformational.

Perhaps that’s how the first disciples felt as they stood by the Sea of Galilee and considered the merits and costs of following Jesus. Becoming a follower of Jesus is what this book is about.

Many of us have convinced ourselves that it’s possible to “be a Christian” without following Jesus, claims John Mark Comer. He calls this attitude “salvation by minimal entrance requirements”. We might say the sinner’s prayer, turn up at church, pray occasionally and give money, but none of that makes you a follower of Jesus, he says. It just makes you someone who agrees with him. 

Following Jesus means being with Jesus, becoming like Jesus and doing the things that Jesus did. That isn’t rocket science and this book doesn’t try to invent anything new. Instead, it’s a “summary and synthesis of ancient Christian orthodoxy”, made relevant for a 21st-century audience.

Comer revisits nine ancient practices – including sabbath, solitude, scripture, fasting, witness and generosity – with a fresh perspective that makes them accessible and relevant. It’s always practical: start where you are, not where you think you should be, he says. That could mean tithing a fraction of your Netflix time to God, or disconnecting from your phone in the evening. And on the scariest of all practices, witnessing for Jesus, Comer reminds us: “you’re not the sales guy closing the deal”. You only have to be a witness. 

This, as well as the array of tools available at reassured me that becoming a true follower of Jesus is not impossible.