An alternative to following Jesus
Trying to follow someone who lived 2,000+ years ago is…well… let’s just say hard. As a follower of Jesus or <whoever you follow> you might find yourself feeling inadequate, exhausted, lost or struggling to keep up.
With so much attention these days on acquiring more followers and ‘who you follow’ online, it’s easy to lose sight of what following actually means.
Jesus had followers (big surprise), but what if He didn’t intend for us to follow Him today? Gulp. What if He knew that following Him would get culturally confusing and increasingly impersonal? What if following Jesus would lead to wide-spread consumerism, spiritual laziness and ultimately the church losing its’ way? WWJT? What Was Jesus Thinking??
Rewind back to New Testament times. Jesus arrives on the scene and literally upends the whole elusive / distant / impersonal God thing. Phase two was initiated and God would no longer be intangible or somewhere else. Jesus made it personal. God was done being distant.
Why the change? Maybe because God knew nothing would change without trust. Trust would become the foundation of Jesus’ ministry and ultimately…everything. And trust is built relationally, personally and over time. Faith requires trust.
God now has a face, a name and a pulse. He drinks wine, eats carbs, goes for walks, asks questions, touches dirty feet, helps people, brushes His teeth (#yourbodyisatemple). Jesus is visible and personal, and in this short time, trust was established.
This is fascinating because, in the end, what do we remember about Jesus’ life and ministry? 1. He Loves Us 2. He’s Always With Us. We feel these truths deeply. Both incarnation (God becoming human) and Immanuel (God with us) were intended to build trust. And right before Jesus departs, He speaks these words, “Behold, I’m always with you, to the very end of the age” Matthew 28:20.
Funny thing… you don’t follow someone who is always with you and walks among you (John 1:14) — you walk together. It’s different. It’s a relationship and partnership built on trust and awareness. As Richard Rohr puts its, “We are already in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.” Could awareness be the equivalent of “come follow me” in 2022?
Jesus modeled a better way to live. That life is rooted in love, freedom, trust and presence. God’s love sets us free, we are free to love, we love what we trust, and trust moves us closer to God and people (presence).
Semantics and speculation aside, closeness with God is how we grow. However you feel about following Jesus or the words we use, I hope this year brings you closer to Him, aware of His presence, trusting His love and practicing His teachings.