If you were looking forward to an exposé and a discussion on Al Gore’s climate change, sorry; this isn’t it. What I’m writing about is much more controversial, much harder to swallow and more impactful to your life than that. It might not be the most popular opinion and probably isn’t the best church growth strategy in the world, but I feel I owe it to you to fill you in.
Are you curious what it is I’m talking about? Are you on the edge of your seat? Are you frustrated that you’re reading a blog in the first place and ready for the writer to just get to the point? Okay, here it is. The inconvenient truth:
Following Jesus is hard. There’s a tension.
What do I mean by that? So many things… Jesus calls us to come and die, take up a cross and follow him. We are creatures of habit and comfortability. Dying to the old ways, changing the way we see things and people and issues and breaking old habits are uncomfortable. You know that old saying “old habits die hard”? Well, there’s some truth in that. With Jesus’ help, they can though. A little at a time.
Following Jesus is going to result in me having to do things I really, frankly, don’t want to do and feel I shouldn’t have to do. Forgiving someone who has wronged me or stabbed me in the back. Loving and embracing someone who has shown no interest and no desire to extend a hand to me. Reaching out to someone who is different than I am. Being positive and encouraging when it’s easier and popular to be negative and critical. Showing grace and mercy. Doing justice when we don’t feel like it. Laying aside my agenda, my desires and my “rights”.
Following Jesus is also not always going to be seen as the politically correct thing to do. Here’s some cool news though: Jesus isn’t all that into correctness and not really all that interested in politics either. Trying to be like Jesus is going to rub Christians and non-Christians the wrong way. If neither is taking notice, well…
Let me just say it like this: If there has never been a day in your walk with Jesus that you’ve frankly gotten a bit ticked off and found it more than irritating that he calls you to be set a part and live differently; that Jesus may be one that’s created in your image. That Jesus may oddly dislike all the people you dislike, feel the same way as you about various issues and excuse the things that you excuse. I would offer that you’re shaping your own Jesus; he’s not shaping you.
Here’s what I can encourage you with, however. As you take steps to live the Jesus way, something inside you changes. The times your gut, your instinct or your “flesh” decides it wants to come through become less and less. In a sense, you begin to see things the way God intended you to see things. You begin to see Jesus as challenging rather than irritating.
Don’t get me wrong, there will still be times that aspiring to be like Jesus will frustrate you to no end, because it requires you to lay down your rights and to react in love and understanding and patience and grace and humility. But I can tell you; it’s God’s best plan for you. I can tell you that there will be good seasons, tough seasons, fun seasons and down right awful seasons. Following Jesus is inconvenient, but sometimes, the things that are inconvenient, end up being the most worthwhile, fruitful and valuable things of all. The inconvenient things, strangely, become the things you hold most tightly to.
“Whenever you open the scriptures and take seriously the teachings of Jesus, there’s a tension. Personally and individually we want to resolve that tension. But if we do, we give up something important. It’s what drove people crazy about Jesus. But he was comfortable with it.”