So, using my last post as a jumping off point (you’ll have to go back and read it if you haven’t already), following Jesus is going to lead me into an “Unconventional Life” or in McManus’s words, “a barbaric life”. A life fueled by His passion, a “Genuine” life, if you will.
Our growth group this fall is studying The Barbarian Way (by the way, not by my suggestion, but at the suggestion of another member). It’s been good for me to go back through this book. Our church, as an entire congregation, is beginning a study of I John, a small little letter toward the back of the Bible, but with big implications. You can’t read that letter and not be forced to choose. Am I going to live life as a “genuine” follower of Jesus and embrace all that means, or am I going to gloss over John’s call for authenticity and pretend it won’t affect me?
Choosing to live the authentic, genuine or “barbaric” life as a Christ follower will profoundly affect me and it’s ripple effect will spread to those around me. Those nearest to me will have to make roughly that same decision as they are looking at my life as well. Will I investigate the changes in my friend’s/coworker’s/spouse’s/parent’s life and follow Jesus as well, or will I pretend that what has changed her won’t change me or our relationship?
My life should point people to Jesus and if I’m following “in his steps” then those around me must make the decision to come along, or watch me walk away. Seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it? But isn’t that the reality? I’m moving, I’m following, and if you aren’t following too, then we will be moving apart from one another, won’t we?
I have a decision to make too! I’m following and I see that you aren’t. Do I turn around and go back to where you are standing? Or do I keep my focus and continue on? I can’t beg you to come with me, you have to make that decision yourself.
Jesus told us over and over again that a life of following him would be costly. But for each of us the cost of following will be completely different. McManus points to this Scripture from John 21 as proof:
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
20Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
You, dear reader, will probably not be called to be crucified as Jesus was for us. You probably won’t be martyred by being crucified upside down as Peter was, or martyred in a den of lions. You probably won’t be called to give up your retirement plans and adopt two boys from foster care.
But you are being called to follow Jesus and following him will cost you everything you are.