The Bible: “essential reading for anyone on a spiritual quest, it’s theme of love, death and friendship are still relevant today”
For a while now I have been thinking about what it means to follow Jesus, I mean really completely follow Him.
A few months ago I listened to a talk by Francis Chan where he was speaking about being lukewarm in our faith and not being truly hungry for God. The day before I had been at a church service where the talk was about being hungry and thirsty for God, and that week I had started to read Rob Bell’s new book ‘Love Wins’.
These three events got me thinking and have started something stirring inside my heart and head about how we (Christians) view our lives and the way that we live for God.
I grew up as a Christian; in fact I started my life out as a missionary kid living on a centre which housed around 1000+ missionary families. I have never not been surrounded by Christians in some sense. And I am becoming aware that sometimes because of this, I live with a sense of complete comfort in my ‘salvation’. A comfort that whatever I am doing, it is okay because God loves me and He will never forsake or reject me. Which is true!… before you think I have gone crazy.
But isn’t there something in that which means I have become overly comfortable. I go to this incredible church and I am surrounded by people who show me wonderful things about God and who He is and yet I am beginning to wonder if I have missed what it means to follow Jesus completely.
In Luke 5:11 Simon, James and John pull their fishing boats up on the shore and leave to follow Jesus. They just leave- they don’t make plans to rent their house out or have a goodbye party – they just fall in step behind Jesus.
In his talk Francis Chan asks his congregation if their wealth and prosperity means that they have become lukewarm in their passion for God. This challenged me to ask myself if I would be able to give it all away. To step away from the security and comfort that I have from my western life and just step in behind Jesus and follow.
In the same way that I was challenged by Francis, reading the first two chapters of Love Wins challenged me. The chapters looks at heaven and what it is/ what it means. Bell challenges the idea that heaven is a destination and talks about how Jesus mentioned heaven as something which is here and now- but in another place and time.
Bell challenges the idea which we have in society, of heaven as a place where we are transformed into a different person. He challenges the readers to bring heaven to earth. To look at the things we believe to be in heaven and act to bring them to earth.
Using the example of clean water, heaven is a place where clean water is available to all and so we should be working to make that a reality on earth: we should follow the example of those who are involved in the advent conspiracy who are trying to solve that problem. We should aim for things which are apparently impossible in this world and believe that God has the ability to make them happen!
Both Bell and Chan used Matthew 19:16-22 to illustrate their points:
“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”“Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’and ‘love your neighbour as yourself.”All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack? ”Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
This passage is challenging because it questions our commitment to follow Jesus. If He asked you right now to give up everything- your laptop, phone, i-pod, money, degree, friends, money, job…. would you do it? Would you be able to say that you would put down everything and follow Him.
Having been thinking about this a lot these last few months, I have realised that I spend a lot of my life saying that I am a follower of Jesus and will do whatever He wants- but do I truly mean that? Have I truly grasped what it means to put down everything and follow Him? Am I hungry enough for Jesus that I would give up everything else to follow Him?
Just some of my rambled thoughts lovely people
Francis Chan – Luke warm and Loving it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBhqrtMqrv8
Rob Bell- Love Wins