So here’s my question; How important is it that followers of Jesus actually live out the stuff that Jesus taught?
I’ve always thought it was pretty important, not as a means of earning my salvation or obligating God to save me, but as a means through which Jesus’ himself accomplishes His work here and now.
Somewhere along the line, I came to believe that it mattered that I choose not to chase after material possessions, but seek to give myself to that which doesn’t burn up, rust out or break down. I came to believe that it mattered if I turned the other cheek, walked two miles instead of one, loved my neighbor as myself, and so on. I came to believe that Jesus’ really cared about how I treated the poor, the stranger, the foreigner and the marginalized AND that he cared about how others treated me as one who is also poor, strange, foreign and pushed out of sight by some.
But over the last number of years, I must admit that there have been too many times when I’ve wondered if others believe that. I’ve been surprised by the disconnect between embracing Jesus’ language, on the one hand, and actual lifestyle choices and practices, on the other. I’ve been blown away by folks whose faith I admire who seem to also pursue the American dream in ways that make me squirm. There have been times when I’ve thought “If Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead, he’d be rollin over in his grave” to see what we’ve made of his movement. I’ve also been dismayed by the strength of my own drives towards things that burn up, rust out and break down.
In my most disappointed moments, I have felt hoodwinked. I’ve had the overwhelming sense that I thought we were all in this thing together, headed the same direction, following the Jesus who calls us to give up everything, but we aren’t. I’ve considered running after the American dream like everyone else seems to be. I’ve felt like trying to have my salvation and American dream too. After all, that seems perfectly acceptable these days. I wouldn’t stick out. I’d fit right in.
More recently, I was hit again with some words from the Apostle Paul when he says, “I’m taking hold of the thing for which Jesus took hold of me.” That is an encouragement to continue to answer my own question, yes! It’s incredibly important to actually live out the stuff Jesus taught. It is the way towards a different world!
Have you ever felt hoodwinked in your faith? Have you ever felt like you were living one way and everyone else, who was supposed to walking with you, is living another way? How did you respond?