Follow me

If I can only “follow Christ” better by selling everything and becoming one of the poor, if I can only “follow Christ” better by withdrawing from this world in one form of retreat or another, if I see myself needing the desert of distance from that which is comfortable and normal, if I need to go to church to be close to God … If  I “need” something I have not yet got in order to “follow Jesus” more closely –

Why might that be?


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I sit here with a job, an income, a home and family.  I sit here looking out on the digital world through my television, my computer, my smart phone.  I walk with those who do not believe a God exists as defined and validated by the sacred texts of religion.  I walk with those who the church defines sinners, deems the lost, names the unchurched.  I talk with those who name themselves something that makes sense only to them.  I laugh with those who see the world through a different lens.  I live with those who do not speak with me nor I them.

For my neighbour has the choice to live as they see fit no matter what I believe and no matter who “I follow”.  For I do not have to become poor to connect with “the poor”.  I do not have to become my neighbour to love my neighbour.

I do not have to smell unwashed.  I do not have to live as they live nor they as me.  For I think that not “following” better.  I think that pretending. I think that withholding.  I think that not connecting.  I think that sampling.  Like a dj on decks providing for someone else.  Providing for the listeners.  But yet apart.

How do I follow?

I think by not following at all.

I think that I become a follower when I become who I am.

I think that I become a follower when becoming who I am allows you to become who you are.

I think I become a follower when I see no difference in your colour, your country, your income, your power, your religion, your faith or your absence of faith.

I think I become a follower …

By not following at all.



Are We Ready?


In Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Mount, (The Sermon on the Plain, Luke 6:17-52), he records Jesus telling us to love our enemies and pray for them. He writes of Jesus instructing us to refrain from judging or condemning others. He recounts Jesus reminding us to look at the logs in our own eyes first. (Luke 6:27-42).

I’ve read and quoted these verses many times, yet as I read them again, I noticed a key phrase for the very first time.

The Bible is like that – God’s word never changes, but if we allow it, the Spirit continues to mature us in our faith and transform us in ways we never though possible. Mysteries open our eyes to passages we have never seen before. We have “Aha” moments, and understand the words of the Lord more deeply. We gain clarity in areas of former confusion. We have breakthroughs divergent from long held beliefs.

To you who are ready for the truth; But I tell everyone who is listening; But to you who are willing to listen; But I say to you who hear; If you’re listening, here’s My message: (Luke 6:27)

The quote above is from five different Bible versions. In Matthew’s account (Matthew 5.1) by contrast, Jesus begins by sitting down and waiting until the crowd had gathered around him. Luke, who was a physician and known for his precision in chronicling detailed and accurate accounts, tells us Jesus begins his sermon by addressing those who were willing to hear the truth.

God speaks to each of us, but do we listen? Do we stop to pay attention to His whispers? When we pray, do we make time to listen for His response?

seven-deadly-sins-620x320Do we compartmentalize God’s commands when they don’t fit nicely into our acceptable framework? Do we pick and choose which commands to follow like we choose items off an á la carte menu? Do we prioritize the sins of others as more egregious than our own?

If we commit to follow Jesus, we must follow all His commands. Jesus was sent from God; he is an equal part of the Trinity, and appeared to us as the physical embodiment of the Father to bring us back into our Father’s embrace. We have the Spirit to remind us of his words – words of life – commands to keep us following in his footsteps. His commands keep us together in unity, in understanding and in healing. God wants us to continue to choose life.

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Are we sometimes too obdurate in our points of view, too inflexible in our behavioral habits, made too intractable by fear or anger to stop and listen, to reevaluate, to consider Jesus just might be right?  

The Cost

Never look down on someone unless you’re helping them up.
Never look down on someone unless you’re helping them up.

What is the cost to us of being redeemed by Christ?

Have you ever wondered what we owe to God?

Well, the true answer is nothing. There is no debt to repay. No obligation or encumbrance upon us.

Yet the closer we come to God, the more vulnerable and intimate we become in our relationship with Him, the more we surrender to the Holy Spirit, the more we delight in taking up the mission of living our lives for Christ.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

What does this mean exactly?

Eugene Peterson in The Message expresses it this way (emphasis mine):

So here’s what I want you to do [with] God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

So breaking it down even further, what does being a living sacrifice mean to you and me?

The closer we come to God, the more vulnerable and intimate we become in our relationship with Him, the more we surrender to the Holy Spirit, the more we delight in taking up the mission of living our lives for Christ.

And to go back to the question, what is the cost if we choose to pay it? What is it God wants for (not from) us if we allow Him full and complete access to our hearts and minds? The cost is living in continuous renewal and transformation of our hearts and minds. If we allow God full and complete access, we receive the unrestrained love He bestows freely and unequivocally.

For some of us, this extravagant love is difficult to receive,

which is why it is so difficult to give.

Yet this is the Gospel. It is the cost of following Jesus.

I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. Just one; one; one. You get closer to Christ by coming closer to each other. Mother Teresa.