Give Up Your Good Christian Life and Follow Jesus

This post is part of the August Synchroblog.  The theme is  “Follow” and bloggers are invited to share their thoughts and ideas about following Jesus.  The Synchroblog is once again partnering with Provoketive Magazine and all the contributions will be published on the Provoketive Magazine site throughout the month of August.  Go here for a list of all the August Synchroblog posts.

My journey of following Jesus led me to a point where I had to completely start over. Some real life stuff came along and made me take a closer look at what I believed about God, following Jesus, Christianity, the Bible, the church etc. and I realized that most of the stuff that I had been so devoted to … attending church, listening to sermons, reading the bible, witnessing, maintaining the church building, adding to church membership … didn’t seem to have much to do with following Jesus.

In recent years I have come to think that following Jesus is more about justice and love than about church and believing – more about community than about me getting into heaven – more about people than about institutions or buildings.

Starting over hasn’t been easy. It has often meant enduring criticism, rejection and loneliness. But from where I sit I can’t see that there was another way for me.  I had to let go of all the preconceived ideas, religious dogma and conventional wisdom in order to get a fresh look at Jesus, his mission and his message.

These days following Jesus for me is about accepting the call to follow Jesus into the world as an agent of the Kingdom of Heaven – working to bring the way of heaven to earth.

Sometimes that is as simple as sharing a meal with someone and sometimes it is as complex as working to dismantle an unjust system.

In the beginning of my journey of following Jesus I thought the main questions were “who is going to heaven and who is going to hell?” but now I think the main questions are “how can I bring heaven to earth and how can I participate with God to bring restoration to the world?”

The humorist Garrison Keillor said “give up your good Christian life and follow Jesus” and that is what I feel like I have had to do.

These days I am more committed to following Jesus than any other time in my life and yet I’m not a member of a church and I don’t often read the bible. My worship of God usually comes in the form of working for justice, and serving and loving others rather than singing songs in church while clapping or raising my hands. I don’t care about converting people to Christianity but I do want to influence people to live in a loving and generous way. I am interested in cultivating my faith to be a bridge that connects me to others rather than a barrier that separates me from those who don’t profess to be followers of Jesus.

I certainly do not think that I have arrived anywhere and on any given day I would be hard pressed to even tell you where I am going … but for now I am trying to follow Jesus where he leads me even if that means giving up my good Christian life.

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4 thoughts on “Give Up Your Good Christian Life and Follow Jesus

  1. peacejusticelove

    I too often feel the call to leave the organized church , but then I pray about it, and realize the organized church needs to hear from people like me, and not ignore those within the church who are interested in social justice, peace, those whom Jesus called out to in, The Sermon on the Mount. It pains me to hear some of the things I hear from Christians, but realize I have a log in my eye, and am on a journey, and must not judge others. I must forgive over and over too. I do go to many other social justice events locally (encourage my class members to go with me), working in a kitchen for homeless in our downtown urban core, listening to sojourners give healing stories in a homeless shelter/church; changing payday loan laws to stop predators of the poor and those in the margins (by working with a group of Christian Organizing Organizations that go beyond piety and individual faith to doing what many call: “bringing the kingdom of heaven here on earth.” I do cross bridges to people who are different than I am–people of color, of different religious faiths, old people, young people, gay people, straight people, all the people I can meet with and remain sane and whole myself. I am concerned about the violence in our American society, and do not believe the organized church is doing much about this area, I feel in my heart Jesus, the man would be, God is, Holy Spirit in the mysterious Trinity are concerned about violence. Michael Hardin in the Jesus Driven Life explained many Bible verses in his Mennonite tradition that have helped me
    to understand that maybe we Christians have gotten the violence thing wrong since Constantine swallowed up the Church with Empire and Onward Christian soldiers type ideology. Brian McLaren, Richard Rohr, Jan Richardson, as well as Gulley and Mulholland are some of my favorite, inspirational Christians to read and ponder. Church is the people, not a structure. I know the most about Christian history, art, poetry, theology, U. Methodist tradition, and the Jewish traditions it is related to, but not much about Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists. I honor and respect other faith traditions, but I realized long ago it will take me my lifetime to journey on this Christian pathway–through experience, tradition, Bible, knowledge, prayer, patience, foreberance, struggle, faith, hope, love. I like that you are on the journey to be the hands, heart to bring “kingdom of heaven to earth,” with God’s mysterious, amazing, interventions.

    Reply
  2. giromide

    Jesus brought believers freedom for the kind of apparatus of which the Jewish leaders of his day were a part. His life and death allows each of us to maintain a personal relationship with God that ultimately cannot be controlled via any religious authority.

    As to following Jesus, keep in mind two strong themes of his life on Earth: harshly criticizing religious authorities and even his closest disciples, and putting himself among those the religious authorities deemed unclean, unworthy, and hopeless. I recall a sermon a year or two ago that stressed that were Jesus to walk the Earth today, he would not hang out at churches, but rather in crack dens and shelters.

    Reply

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