Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Following Jesus

A friend of mine loaned me a book about five years ago that I am just getting around to reading. It's called Follow Me, and it has been a really interesting read so far. In the opening chapter, Jan David Hettinga, the author, proposes that many who profess belief in Jesus have never made a decision to really follow Him. Below is a quote of what he says a life like this might look like.

If I were to put myself inside the skin of a Christian who believes in Jesus but doesn’t follow Him—what would my life be like? What would I experience? I would:
Be Cynical about church and the possibility of the Christian life actually working.
Cover the fact that I was spiritually empty, dry, and unsatisfied.
Tend to be passive and apathetic. I would have good intentions but lack follow-through.
Be focused on myself—my needs, my rights, my options.
Prefer being a spectator—watching, listening, but not really participating.
Occasionally admit that I have a busy, fast-paced, cluttered life, and a short attention span.
Insist on arranging my life around my personal preferences, pleasures, and comforts.
Subdivide my life so that I could move from one sealed compartment to another, keeping each strictly separate—church world, work world, leisure world, family world, and so forth.
Go through the motions, doing what is expected, more out of habit than anything else.
Be spiritually sterile, barren, and nonproductive in witness, and not troubled about it.
Experience the frustration of trying to have the best of both worlds, attempting to serve two masters—Jesus and someone or something else.
Pride myself on my ability to be independent and self-sufficient.
Keep my options open and remain uncommitted in order to avoid getting tied down.
Have little or no sense of overriding spiritual purpose or cause, and prefer to drift.
Cover up a quiet desperation inside—“There’s gotta be more to the Christian life than this powerless state I’m experiencing.

After I read this, I couldn't help but feel like this could describe periods in the life of every person I know, including myself. It has been a good reminder to me of my need to take regular time to evaluate what I am centering my life upon.

As Dallas Willard is fond of noting, we are all students of someone. We are all learning how to live from someone, and following some teacher. The question we are compelled to ask ourselves is "Is our teacher Jesus, or somebody or something else?"

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