J. M. Boice’s Christ’s Call to Discipleship is a great book on what it means to follow Jesus. Some parts of this book are a little dated, but it is a good one to have for sure (used copies are well under $10 shipped). Here’s a snippet:
“In my judgment, the real reason why so many do not talk about self-denial and cross-bearing as essential ingredients of Christianity is that we just do not like these ingredients. We like having our sins forgiven, at least if excess sin is destroying our lives and weighing on our consciences. We like the promises of Christianity. We want to be told that God will heal broken relationships (especially if we do not have to do anything about them), and prosper our work. Some forms of gospel preaching actually promise prosperity. We like that. But denial? Taking up a cross? Suffering? We dislike that teaching. A preacher who wants to see his church grow soon learns to stop talking about it. Instead he tells people things that will build their self-esteem.”
“So the cross is neglected, and professing Christians are allowed to go their own ways, live for self, and, at best, miss the fullness of the gospel. At the worst, they are encouraged to think they are saved when actually they may not be Christians at all” (p. 37-8).