Are Christians coerced into following Jesus?
I can understand that view if the primary focus of what God is doing through Jesus is rescuing people from Hell. Then the fear of Hell would be one of the main reasons for trusting Jesus.
To be honest fear of Hell was a motivating factor for me when I was baptized and started my journey following Jesus.
That may have been my starting point, but it certainly isn't where I am today. While I accept the reality of Hell (leaning towards conditional immortality), it is not a motivating factor in my life.
To be honest, I hardly think about Hell.
Rather, my focus is on my calling to make disciples and the hope of New Creation that comes through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
As we mature in faith our reasoning for following Jesus should change.
The fear of Hell might be the initial reason why a person puts his trust in Jesus, but it shouldn’t remain the primary reason for faith.
There should come a time when love overcomes the fear, and the reason for faith is to love: God and people.
1 John 4:17-21 (NLT )And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
John wrote that love empowers us to be confident on the day of judgment. He emphasized that it isn't just our love for God, but God’s love for us that gives us confidence and drives away fear.
This love is made real in our lives as we follow Jesus.
Fear doesn’t transform our lives.
Yes, it might get us started making changes, but that intense fear can't sustain the transformation process.
Only love is able to do that.
As we move from fear to love as the primary motivating factor for following Jesus, we move away from being coerced to being a partner in the work God is doing in the world.