“To follow Jesus implies that we enter into a way of life that is given character and shape and direction by the one who calls us.”
Charles Dickens told the story of a man shackled to his greed and pain, oblivious to the real needs around him. Ebeneezer Scrooge is not a good man when the story begins. He has tunnel vision for only one thing: himself. But by the end of the story, after having the pee scared out of him and a genuine respect and fear presented to him by three ghosts (Christmas Past, Present, and Future), he changes.
He sees his own story and the stories of the people around him in a new light, from a different point of view. Dickens tells a beautiful story. It is about redemption, new vision, and living from a heart of love.
There are days where I think I am much more like Ebeneezer Scrooge than I care to admit. In my one track mind, I see only me. I see only my convenience, my time, my priorities, and my hopes and desires. I need an awakening.
The culture around you tells a different story.
- Possess more.
- Don’t be serious about faith-following.
- Believe in yourself
- Give God a nod every once in a while.
- Follow your heart, not some ancient book.
Untruth often disguises itself in the form of pleasant words. Half-truths are mistaken for whole truths.
Jesus path was very clear. The Jesus Way is marked with at least four clear flags that define those of us who follow Him.
- Humble Yourself. I’ve said this before, but you are not the hero in your own story. You can’t rescue yourself, you can’t save yourself, and you can’t define yourself. Once you realize this truth, the only option that benefits you in the end is to humble yourself. Rail against it all you want, but if your knee doesn’t bow willingly to God here on earth, it will be forced to bow at some point or at least in Heaven.
- Submit to the Father. This may be the most difficult thing that we humans fight against. We say we believe in God, but we are happy to keep Him at a distance. We don’t want anyone up in our business because we think that nobody is that close. We are mistaken. God is close. He sees…everything. But this shouldn’t cause us to react in fear. It should propel us to faith in Him because He does see us, He does know us, and in spite of that fact, He still pursues, disciplines, loves, restores, and heals us if we would just let Him. This is a good Father. He can be trusted.
- Apprentice Yourself to Jesus. Jesus is the target. He is the model. He is the path. We cannot be him. But He can influence, lead, guide, and apprentice us into this way called the Kingdom of God. Discipleship is apprenticeship. We don’t simply follow, we learn. We pick up the tools of the trade and learn from the Master of Life. This happens through interaction with him through his imperfect people. We need the broken, messy, jacked up relationships we have with the called out ones of Jesus. Enter into an apprenticeship with Him.
- Live Generously. Finally, generosity marks us. Through the abundance of love, grace, and mercy we have received, we live generously among the people of the world. The good news is that God has not only come in the flesh to save and serve us, but that we, in turn can carry Him with us in our flesh through living a generous life. We give more than just our money. Generosity is nobility. We live noble lives among our co-workers and family members. We give our very selves to the greater good of humanity. Not only when they believe like we do, but especially when they don’t. It’s easy to serve people who are like you, but Jesus example is generosity to those who don’t deserve it, who haven’t earned it, and who probably aren’t even going to thank you for it.
This is the Jesus Way. It is counter-intuitive. Backwards. His is an unpopular path. He inserts comments into his stories like, “if you want to become great, you have to become less…” or “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you can’t be a part of me…”, and “deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me…” There is more to say about these things… but for now… join the conversation.
Can you follow something that doesn’t make sense? Or are you too rational, logical, and intelligent to accept such a proposal? How is that working for you?