Sunday, September 25, 2011

Follow Me!

I’m always amazed at how much junk mail I get from Christian publishers.  Five or six times a week I get flyers or emails or promotional videos telling me that this or that new bible study is what will finally get people excited about following Jesus.  

I wish it were that easy.  Because then for only $159.99 and one half-hour meeting a week, I could get all kinds of people excited to follow Jesus for the rest of their lives.  All I'd have to do is have people work through a green notebook, and then watch a video, one that was filled with Christian Rock Stars and Professional Athletes no doubt.  Wouldn't that be great?  Trouble is, according to Scripture this is a severely inadequate approach to life change.

How did Jesus do it?  He gave sermons and told stories and gave teachings no doubt about it.  But when Jesus went about changing someone's life, he’d walk up to that person and say, “Follow me!  Give me a few years, come with me from town to town.  Watch how I treat people.  Watch how I live.  Watch how I pray.  And do what I do.”  

How about the apostle Paul?  What did he say?  "Imitate me as I imitate Christ," he said. "Watch what I do and do it." 

It seems to me that the first step in becoming like Jesus is to find someone who actually follows Jesus.  And not so that you can take a class from them, or listen to their sermons.  No, find someone who follows Jesus, let them into your life and live like they do.

It is true that you can learn a lot about faith all by yourself.  You can read books, listen to teachings.  You can even read the bible on your own.  But if you want a life that is transformed by God then you need people.  Because transformation happens in community. It always has.

I was on the phone with a sales rep for one of these bible study series one time, and the rep says to me over the phone, “Pastor, this curriculum is simply the best resource that you can offer your students.”  I said to the man, “I don’t mean any disrespect, but I don’t believe that to be true. The best resource I have to offer my students are the people of Emmaus Church.”  

That’s what I told him, because I hold the deep conviction that Christianity is not primarily a list of propositions to be believed.  Christianity is a life to be lived. 

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