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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

'Come, Follow Me!'

'What Would Jesus Do': though not so much of a huge thing anymore, as early as the late 80s & as late as the early 2,000s, 'WWJD' was quite the statement, anywhere from bumper stickers to t-shirts to key fobs, this meant you were a Christian, following Jesus, doing what He did. Maybe this is one reason why it's not so fashionable anymore, but what DID Jesus do: what DOES it mean to follow Jesus in this day & age?!

Many people seem to think that going to a special buildings on Sundays ( or Saturdays ), singing ( with gusto ) a few Psalms, hymns & spiritual songs, then listening to a preacher spew his thoughts & opinions for anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes is enough to guarantee an easy entrance to the 'Pearly Gates'! On the other hand, there are those who will have nothing to do with any organized 'church', yet go out of their way to feed the hungry, clothe the naked & help widows & orphans in their hour of need. We should ask ourselves 'which of these two groups is actually following in the footsteps of Jesus?'!

When Jesus first gave these instructions ( 'Come, follow Me!' ) to His disciples, He actually meant for them to leave what they were doing & follow Him, at least, that's what they understood & that's exactly what they did! Eschatologically speaking, at least while Jesus walked the earth with the Twelve, He actually meant for them to drop what they were doing & do what He did. In the context of Israel in the first century A.D, this meant learning a new way ( which was not really 'new', but 'renewed' ) of doing things, as well as literally following ( walking after ) their Messiah ( Jesus )!

To follow Jesus meant for them to leave their old way of life, even if it meant leaving father, mother, brother, sister, wife or children to do so. This was their long-awaited Messiah & to listen to Him made everything else pale in comparison; it was almost as if nothing else mattered! Those that Jesus chose to be His apostles, or the Original Twelve, were staunch Jews; most of them believed in the Law & the Temple for their salvation. Jesus showed them a better way, that He WAS the Law & the Temple, He was the One hat the Law had tutored them to & what the Temple had signified, Heaven ( the Dwelling of the Creator-God ) on Earth!

Since the Eschaton was fulfilled & the Creator-God DOES now dwell with ( in ) His People once more, Jesus no longer physically walks the earth, as He did in the first century, though one might argue that He does indeed, in the form of His People, His Body, the Church! Even so, to follow Jesus today means much the same; it means to forsake your sins, to do things according to His Word & Way & depending on how you lived previously, to forsake your old way of life & begin anew to do what He did. If your previous life included living selfishly, to satisfy the lusts of your body, then to follow Him would mean to start living for the advancement ( expansion ) of His Kingdom & no longer for your own selfish ends!

Some of the things that Jesus did would probably land Him in 'hot water' with some Christians today, but one thing Jesus did NOT do was start a new religion! He never instructed His disciples to meet once a week ( maybe twice ) in a specialized building for a special service of worship. Now, this is NOT to say that there is anything inherently wrong in doing so; even Jesus, as a good Jew, seemed to follow the tradition of going into the synagogue every Sabbath Day, to open the Word ( Himself ) to His brethren. No, Jesus showed the Congregation of Israel that both the Law & the Temple, which they revered as sacrosanct, pointed directly to Him as the Fulfillment of both!

To follow Jesus means, not to do exactly & only what He did! To follow Jesus means to do greater things, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked & yes, to help widows & orphans in need, but it also means to heal the hurt, to lift the broken-hearted. There is so much pain & suffering in this world ( not so different, you might say, from His 'world' ) that is needless! 'Jesus healed the sick & raised the dead', you say; doctors do the same today & plain miracles do happen where nothing but a supernatural explanation will suffice, but our Heavenly Father still works in & through His People, including those we would not normally call 'His People'!

'What Would Jesus Do?' Well, we can be pretty sure that He would NOT do much of what passes for Christianity Today! We can also be assured that He would be doing much that would fall under the banner of 'pagan' or 'non-Christian'! Would Jesus, for instance, do the 'church' thing? If Jesus walked the earth today, the selfsame Jesus, the first-century Jesus, there is no doubt that He would be turning tables & kicking some ass in His Righteous Indignation! However, since the Temple is no longer a specialized building, but a Special People ( as it always was ); He would probably do more ass-kicking than table-turning, don't you think?!

Charles Haddon Shank

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