Scripture talks about the way of a Jesus follower being narrow and difficult. It’s not narrow because of all of the things we have to give up. It’s not difficult because of all the things we have to do.
The way of a Jesus follower is narrow because we cannot bring our ‘selves’ through the opening. It’s difficult because we are attached to our ‘selves’.
Being a Jesus follower is the most difficult for those who think they are pretty decent human beings. Why would you die to a part of you that has nothing wrong with it?
It’s tough for those who think they are ‘good’ to understand that ‘good’ isn’t good enough.
Being a Jesus follower is difficult because you have to learn how to think with a different part of you. You have to learn to see with different eyes.
Scripture says nothing about all of these little addendum’s religion puts on being a Christ follower. Different churches have different visions for what it is to be a Christian. Very little of it has anything to do with what Jesus taught.
What is so frustrating for those who ask questions is that the church members know the right things to say, but are far from practicing what they preach. They’ll tell you that the only way to eternal life is believing in Jesus, but they’ll demand so much more in actuality. If you don’t believe it, then ask anyone who tripped in their walk, needed a miracle that never came or couldn’t conquer a bad habit. You’ll hear that they were never Christians, that they have some recessed sin or that they don’t have enough faith.
Being a Christian has nothing to do with what you don’t do.
I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it. – Romans 14:13
Preachers stand in front of their shiny congregations and tell them they have to walk the walk if they’re going to talk the talk. People with known sin in their lives will squirm in their seats and vow a vow that lasts until Wednesday that they won’t do [insert sin] anymore. That’s fine, I get it, but they are not the only one’s who need to listen to that preacher.
We should be listening to this stuff as if we had something to learn. The sixty-year-old, white-haired pew veteran needs to be called out in her opaque stockings. The relentless aunt with her dishwater hands and her mousy hair needs to know that the preacher isn’t just talking to the fifteen year old boys, they’re talking to them, too.
The preacher needs to stop trying to pinpoint who God is talking to. Don’t add to scripture when you’re trying to push some unknown listener over the edge. Give the scripture and let it wiggle back in forth as it settles in the dusty hearts. People will assume you’re not talking to them because you didn’t mention their sin while you were stabbing in the dark.
When you say, ‘walk the walk’. We think it means ‘walk like a Christian’ then you’ll give us seven and a half different characteristics and post more on the church blog. We go out and start making t-shirts with puffy paint and baking judgment into our bake-sale brownies. We’re a bunch of monsters because you’ve given fifteen different ways you can tell if someone is a Christian.
It’s disheartening to hear people teaching their own convictions and not teaching the truth. We are humans and we mess it up way too much to not simply stick to the basic teaching of Jesus. If you want to teach someone how to be a Christian, teach them how to love.
The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. – 1 John 3:14
All the rest is religious jewelry and pious cologne.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Start with Love and all the other things will fall in to place. If we get the other stuff right, but mess up the love part, we’re done-for. The way of love is the only way. Obedience in forgiveness, selflessness, and love are the first steps to the freedom and depth of relationship with Jesus that we beg for.
Love requires you to lose your ‘self’. And thank God because you can’t fit where you’re called to go. Be warned, losing your ‘self’ is excruciating and crazy liberating. It’s the last thing you think you need to lose and it’s the first step to freedom. What a contradictory and inside-out existence it is to be a follower of Jesus.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Matthew 7:13