Tuesday, September 21, 2021

What Do You Mean By "Following Jesus"?

 

Probably because of the terminal mass of assumptions that have been attached to the term "Christian", it has become popular to identify oneself as a Jesus Follower. It's an attempt to differentiate oneself from merely attending church or from adhering to a particular set of mostly-radically-right-wing political positions.

In essence, I applaud the effort. But last Wednesday night's Bible study at my home congregation made me take a closer look at the concept of following Jesus.


We were looking at the first chapter of Mark's gospel, and I was particularly impacted by Francis Chan's comments about Mark 1:16-20, which reads:

 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay, he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Chan's passionate comments about those verses focused on how different following Jesus was for those fishermen compared to what most of us mean when we use the term.

James and John didn't just agree with what Jesus was teaching. Simon and Andrew went beyond meeting weekly at the local synagogue. When they became Jesus Followers, they actually...you know...got off their duffs and followed Jesus.

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Truth is...If I'm going to call myself a Jesus follower, it involves more than an intellectual assent. It requires action. I need to pay attention to where Jesus is going and what Jesus is doing and I need to go there and do that.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Whose Side Are You On and Does It Make a Difference?

 

Today we find our hero (Calvin of Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes) making a grave mistake.


Sadly, an attempt to remedy the situation doesn't mitigate his teammates' wrath.


There are two ways to go with this:

       1. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Just as Calvin felt proud of his accomplishment in getting the out, there are times when a person thinks they're doing a good thing when it's really a score for "the other side." Case in point: thinking you're taking a stand for righteousness when what you're really accomplishing is the continuation of a people-hating, Bible-thumping stereotype that has never drawn anyone into the Kingdom.

       2. What kind of army kills its wounded? Calvin's teammates could have turned this into a teachable moment and help mold Calvin into a productive member of the team. Instead, they condemned and rejected him. Kind of like blogging about Bible-thumpers.

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Truth is...We've all stood on both sides of this equation and are equally dependent on the grace of God.


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Disproportional Legend of the Pony Express

 

Think about all you've ever heard, seen, or read about the Pony Express.

Between movies, television, and books, we've been entertained by stories of those 400 horses, 180 riders, and 1900 miles of the Immigrant Trail our whole lives.



Now think about this. The Pony Express closed its operations just two days after the first cross-continental telegraph message: an assurance of support from the chief justice of California to President Lincoln.

The Pony Express casts a pretty long shadow for a business venture that only lasted nineteen months.

But still, those legends and tall tales are practically nothing when compared to the real-life impact made by a rag-tag group of fishermen, civil servants, and would-be political activists led by a backwater carpenter-turned-rabbi.


Truth is... The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.(Matthew 13:31-32 NLT)