Spirit Alive: The Challenge of Following Jesus
Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.
March 6, 2018
Food for the Soul:
Making Disciples of Jesus Christ Means Joining a Movement of Love... and Following the Way of the Cross
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'"
There is no better time in the cycle of the Christian Year than Lent to be reminded of the very real challenge that is involved in following the Way of Jesus. Lent is the time when it becomes most clear that Jesus' invitation isn't simply about joining a congregation and coming to church on Sunday.
It involves something much more: It means that one has decided intentionally to follow a new way
Well, there is no fine print. It is all pretty straight forward when you read the whole story. And yep,it isn't an easy road. It isn't a rational decision. It isn't the path for the faint of heart...but instead it is a new way to be in the world for those who are willing to go deep enough to discover and open their hearts.
But it is the Way of Love that Jesus teaches and calls us to follow. It is a way grounded in compassion and empathy. It willingly stands up to injustice. And as a result, it opens, to those who chose to follow this path, a remarkable encounter with the Living God.
I find it interesting that Jesus' way is the Way of Love, the Way of the Cross, and the Way to God are all wrapped up together. You can't really separate one from the other according to Jesus, because all of them are about a deep and lasting relationship that is holy, divine, sacrificial, painful, glorious, and counter-cultural at the same time.
As a result, Lent always becomes a time for me to measure my own life in relationship to the path that Jesus willingly walks...which takes him to the cross and beyond. It reminds me that I'm
During Lent, I've read two wonderful books that I'd like to share with you that have helped me consider this question anew. I hope that they will provide you with new insight and a sense of challenge to re-consider what it means to follow Jesus in our own times.
In his amazing book, The End of Protest, Micah White reminds us of our own roots as Christians.
White's words are a challenge to those of us who are a part of the church today. And they raise a number of questions for us to consider:
- Why was the Early Church so threatening to the Roman Empire?
- Are we still this church today?
- Are we following the Way that Jesus invited us into?
- What is our place and role in the broken world that is unfolding before our eyes?
A second book may take you into a deeper understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, especially during this Lenten Season. It is Richard Rohr's wonderful, short volume Just This.
- "Jesus says, 'There's only one sign I'm going to give you: the sign of the prophet Jonah. (see Luke 11:29, Matthew 12:39, 16: 4). Sooner or later, life is going to lead us (as it did Jesus) into the belly of the beast, into a situation that we can't fix, can't control, and can't explain or understand. That's where transformation most quickly happens. That's when we're uniquely in the hands of God. It's God's Waiting Room!...The genius of Jesus' teaching is that he reveals that God uses tragedy, suffering, pain, betrayal and death itself, not to wound us but, in fact, to bring us to a Larger Identity....In such a divine economy, everything can be transmuted, everything can be used, and nothing is wasted-- not even our mistakes. This is God's ultimate and merciful recycling process."
Lent is a wonderful, important time to step back and re-examine Jesus' invitation for those of us who seek to follow him. It is a time to remember that there is a cost involved in doing this...and the price is our very lives!
Let us walk in the light of God's love,
Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference. It seeks to identify where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities. Check out past editions, or subscribe to the email list.