September 09, 2010
So. A few quick thoughts on something that has been ripping at my mind and wrenching at my heart lately. I have lost many hours of sleep to it without necessarily finding so many answers as I do more questions. But here is my primary question? What does it look like to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? What should life as a Christian look like? I look around and see all these different ideas clashing in culture, in our church sub-culture, in society in general, but in the midst of all these ideas I notice a lack of sufficient answers. Rare is the person that you can look at and say "Wow. They have something different. They must be a Christian." And yet the very term Christian finds its origin back in the 1st century, it's literal meaning is "little Christ". People used it as a derogatory term to make fun of believers in Jesus, or as Luke calls them in Acts, followers of the Way. That last term I think is an interesting one to ponder when on this subject. Christians didn't call themselves Christians. They referred to themselves as followers of the Way. What is this Way? It is the life of radical discipleship that Jesus called them to when He walked the earth. They preached in the streets, at times being beaten and jailed. They met in homes to encourage one another. They served the community by helping the poor, and taking care of widows and orphans. Did they gain anything from this? No. They professed faith in this Jewish Rabbi who claimed to be God, followed in His commands by serving each other and the needy, and what they received in return was everything from simple ridicule, to beating and jailing, all the way to brutal and violent execution. What motivated this? Was it some crazy religion that enjoyed suffering? Was it some gushy sentimental gushy "Jesus is my boyfriend" feeling? I don't think so. Something you notice about humans under pressure. Any superficial knowledge is of far less importance to them than their physical health. I don't think any simple religion would have held up to the intense persecution that Christianity saw early on (well, and today in much of the world, as well as throughout its history). And sentimentalism? What if these people who had known Jesus just really wanted to believe He was God, and made up this big story? Well thats a nice thought, but I'm pretty sure they would have given that up the moment the realized it was gonna cost them their reputations, let alone their lives. No. What these people believed was something deeper than straight emotion, and stronger than simple religion. These people really believed in this Jesus Christ. They believed what He said about being God. They believed He was the Way the Truth and the Life like He told them. They believed He had power over life and death, the physical and spiritual world. Why? Because they had seen Him raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out demons, feed 20,000 people with a few loaves of bread and a couple fish, walk on water, and other miraculous things. He didn't just talk the talk...He lived up to it. Then He went to a cross and was brutally murdered for their sins...and yours...and mine. There on that cross He paid the debt we all owed. And three days later He rose again, something over 500 people witnessed before He ascended back into Heaven. That is some solid footing for belief. But from this solid footing of faith something deeper was born. You see, what these people believed was that God Almighty who owed them nothing, had humbled Himself to come and give them everything. He demonstrated His love by laying down His life. What did this do to them? It gave them overwhelming joy, and stirred up an intense love in them for this Jesus who had so loved them. You see, their love wasn't superficial, and their religion wasn't dry knowledge. They had faith in this Jesus, and what they knew about Him caused them to love Him so much that they were willing to go through unspeakable torture, pain, and persecution for Him. They really loved God, not in a blind way, but a love born of a knowledge. That is what I want. That is what I desire. I suppose its not any certain lifestyle, I could end up rich, poor, happy, sad, hungry, fed, broke and homeless, or making six figures. What I want is Jesus. And He offers Himself freely. This is in radical contrast to any religion, and so much deeper than any of the superficial fakes that are prevalent in our culture. Deeper. Better. Radical. What an amazing, loving, beautiful Savior!