I am experiencing a revolutionary work of God in my life these days. I feel a direct call to take Jesus more seriously than I ever have before. (reading “If Jesus was Serious” by Skye Jethani) I feel the culture we live needs to see the actual Jesus who showed us the way to live by living and teaching about it not the Jesus we have morphed into our own image.
I am studying more about Jesus in the Bible (from the original language and culture of the Biblical authors not from my current language and culture which has been mind-blowing itself) instead of assuming I know Him already and I want to know specifically what and how He said things in order to drive my thinking, actions and responses.
Again, I am relearning to read the Bible from the perspective of the language and culture it was written in to better clarify how it should impact me and my culture today. (reading “The Unseen Realm by Michael S. Heiser [a Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software] who goes through the Biblical text from the language and culture of those who wrote it. I am not only gaining a renewed passion for the Bible but putting away some of my wrong views of what it is actually saying or not saying.
My need for a comfortable life is going away and I am realizing that being a reflection of Jesus will not be the less controversial and comfortable and the safe choice but will be the exact opposite of that. Taking Jesus seriously must make me okay with that. By the way, Jesus not only said it would be a life of trouble but demonstrated it with what happened in His own life. For example, there will be those who hold to certain “religious thinking” that will be our worse critics when we make the choice to think, act and live like Jesus just like the Pharisees treated and eventually crucified Jesus for what He said and did.
I am afraid that as I seek to think and walk more like Jesus and take what He said more seriously (especially in the sermon on the mount) I may be “crucified” by the very people who also call themselves “Christians” I too may look like I am siding with and eating with and loving on “sinners” with all the judgement that Jesus dealt with because of His choice to do that very thing. I too may be called into question because I chose not to cast my lot with the masses or cast stones at those considered “ungodly” but to forgive, help and love them.
Being a reflection of Jesus will involve loving everyone enough to suffer with and for them no matter who they are. When Jesus said “love your enemies” there was no “unless”. If you see this as too radical then call me too radical. Jesus was called it and I long to take on all the aspects of Jesus that I can. I have fully decided to follow Jesus and how He taught us to live, NO TURNING BACK. Whether I am liked for it or not.
I have concluded that taking Jesus seriously looks more like a sacrifice of my rights and my opinions about conspiracy theories and masks etc. than holding and expressing my opinion at the cost of offending other Christians. I am much more concerned about hurting those who need to be seen and heard and loved in both word and action. It looks more like choosing to love over being loved by the masses which is how I see Jesus in the Gospels
To reflect more of Jesus means I may have to trust politics and politicians less (I may have made them an idol in my life?) and trust God more with the future. Who, as I look to the mountains before me, is where my help comes from (Psalm 121:1-2) not the religious right or the liberal left or person in the White House or how much “freedom” they promise us. Taking Jesus seriously is shifting the way I see my vote this year. (What is helping clarify that for me has been listening to the podcast called “The Holy Post” and reading “The Dispatch” from David French whose perspectives make me seek God’s word deeper and Jesus even closer than I had)
I have now moved to a position of wrestling with what I have been taught and how close it comes to what the Bible (from the perspective I mentioned earlier) actually says and what it looks like to take Jesus seriously and shifting to live more in line with what He says. My hope and desire is that it changes me into a better (one full of grace for others and myself) reflection and conduit of the true love of Jesus for those who need and desire it whether I see them as a friend or enemy.
I do understand the angst going on inside you as you read this post. As a born and raise American Christian I’ve been wrestling with it too. But I also realized that wrestling with it has been good because I cannot wrestle with God on these topics without getting closer to Him. Like me, the anger and confusion you feel may be the conduit you need to scatter some tables of thinking and actions in your life that should not be there. The conviction I have felt has led me to a humble admission of the spiritual pride that I have carried far too long and a need to rethink my faith and actions. If it is conviction you are feeling it is most likely the Holy Spirit getting close enough to help you out like He has for me. That is one of His jobs so let’s let Him do it.
I know many of you want to comment about this right now because you may not like how uncomfortable this post has made you. However, I ask that you choose to be kind knowing that the first way to be more like Jesus will be to be filled with grace first before responding. I am open to all your concerns and questions but I still may not agree with you. I also may not respond to all your comments because God needs to answer those things for you, not me. I have found the best way for me when a post stirs me up is spend significant time in prayer where I ask questions and listen for God’s still small voice with an open Bible on my lap. Time in God’s presence will always soften our hearts and better clarify our concerns and help us discern how to react. I also know that God wants us all to take Jesus more seriously even if we end up looking less like an American Christian.
For an article about the definition of what I am referring to as “American Christianity” read “13 Contrasts Between American Christianity and Biblical Christianity”