Friday, February 29, 2008

To Follow or Not To Folow

I love the excerpts Vince Antonucci has been sharing from his new book "I Became a Christian and all I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt". I can hardly wait to get the book and read the whole thing. In the mean time here is an excerpt from his book I love:

I don’t think people who lived in the Bible times had it easy, but at least when Jesus said, “Follow me” they could see the guy. You knew whether you were following him or not because … “Whoa, there goes Jesus!” He’d be off somewhere and you’d still be eating your cheese fries (because chili cheese fries hadn’t been invented yet – man, they had it rough) and you’d realize, “Whoops, I guess I didn’t follow.”

I think in many ways those of us who live today have it easier, but following an invisible guy can be tricky. When I wanted to start doing it, I realized I didn’t even know what it meant.

My first image of “following Jesus” was of him steadily walking a straight, narrow path with a Christian dutifully trailing behind, trying to never get distracted and led off course. Most of the people I talked to seemed to hold this view.

But after awhile I realized that with this way of thinking, Jesus is almost completely irrelevant in following Jesus. This concerned me. If all a Christian has to do is stay on the straight and narrow path of obedience by doing right and not doing wrong, does it really matter if Jesus is out in front or not?

In fact, Jesus could faint; I could walk right past him, and still feel assured that I’m “following Jesus” because I’ve stayed on that same straight moral path. Jesus could then wake up and start walking the same course again, only now he’d be following me! There had to be something wrong with my understanding of following Jesus if it didn’t really matter who was following who.
This view of following Jesus is captured in an old saying (and someone wrote a book with this title) about how the Christian life is “a long obedience in the same direction.” Now don’t get me wrong, I know there is truth in that. Being a Christian does involve obeying God over the long haul. And part of following Jesus is doing right and not doing wrong. But there’s got to be more to it.

I decided to look at the original followers of Jesus in the bible. I was still a little annoyed with them, because they had the advantage of getting the non-invisible Jesus, but I hoped maybe I could learn something. What did it look like for them to follow Jesus?

[want to read more? buy the book!]
- featured on

No comments: