Pick and Mix
Follower of Jesus
I am slightly puzzled by various people I meet up with of late, and some I hear speaking publically, who seem to want to stress to me that they are ‘people of faith’, that they ‘love God’, that they ‘are Christians’ or that they ‘are followers of Jesus’. I suppose some of those statements could be understandable, but ‘follower of Jesus’, seems a bit harder for me to swallow.
Is it the Jesus who says ‘do whatever you like as I don’t mind’? I don’t know that one. Is it the Jesus who says ‘whatever values you think fit you, that’s ok, as long as you say you are following me, that’s fine’? I don’t know him either. Is it the one who says ‘we are all going in the same direction and it does not matter what you believe’? I've never met him.
You see the Jesus I follow says ‘I am the way’. He says ‘take up your cross and follow me’. He says ‘if you love me then keep my commandments’. He is the one who says of some, especially those with power, and especially the religious; ‘Don’t expect that if they have hated me that they won't hate you because they will’.
We love the pick and mix that our culture wants to persuade us is the norm, a bit like the old Woolworths sweet model; ‘I would like to choose this but exclude that’. It seems ok when we are choosing sweets, so why not when we say we are choosing to follow Jesus? ‘Oh I am happy to follow you down that path Jesus, but you want me to follow you down the next one too? Sorry I don’t like that direction so we will connect later’. Is that how it works?
I don’t think so. Becoming a follower of Jesus requires repentance first of all, and that word suggests a turnaround of direction. In other words we go in a new direction, the Jesus direction if you will; and this new direction is very contrary to much of the world we live in. It has a whole new set of values to start with, such as ‘love your enemies’ and ‘do good to those who use you badly’. There are other things that give us problems too in this following, such as ‘deny yourself’.
Oh dear, I thought my happiness and what I want, my emotions, my feelings, my particular leanings or desires, i.e. ME, was the most important thing in the world. Well actually, following Jesus includes that difficult part of [dying to self and living to Him]. Oh dear, this pick and mix is such a problem, and this ‘I am a follower of Jesus’ is such a problem too.
Let’s be honest, I like the idea of following Jesus, but not giving up on my wants, my personal desires, what I think is best for me, my choices; that’s a bit hard, maybe I will give it a miss and be a bit more honest in future and not say I am one of those people, maybe I will just say I like them but am not ‘following’. A bit like some of those people right at the start 2,000 years ago; this is what happened then.
Acts 5:13 But even though people admired them a lot, outsiders were wary about joining them. On the other hand, those who put their trust in the Master were added right and left, men and women both.
Perhaps those admirers where just a bit more honest, what do you think?
12th January 2014