This article reflects the second of about half a dozen reasons for my faith and why I choose, on my life journey, to follow Jesus. The reason is that there is a tangible promise of abundance here and now. Jesus seems to have believed that promise and the invitation to follow Jesus involves our believing it, too. The promise of abundance is for our own lives, for our families, for our congregations christian mysticism, our communities, and for the whole world.
Do you know what makes me mad, what really ticks me off? Well, not really mad, I guess, but do you know what I find more than a little irritating? I don’t mean to offend, but it’s the idea that, “I worship out in nature, cleaning up a polluted river, hiking in Rocky Mountains, or experiencing fine music or other art, but church really doesn’t do anything for me! ” That doesn’t make me mad because people are saying what is true for them.
It’s not as though I haven’t felt the same things. I get mad because church is often not nearly as translucent to God as is time spent on the river or in the mountains or on the beach, or a museum or concert hall. Our efforts to find answers about God don’t seem to find fulfillment at church. I get irritated because it is probably true for most people that serving God by coming to church is not as compelling as finding faith through nature or some other way. The problem is not nature or our experiences in nature. The problem is how we often experience church and what it is meaning for Christians to follow Jesus!
This is the fourth in a series of articles in response to the question, “Why Should i Follow Jesus? ” Through this series, I am sharing some of the reasons for my faith and why I choose, on my life journey, to follow Jesus. The first reason was “joy. ” The second was the “promise of abundance. ” The third reason was how Jesus showed us truth of God clearly in human life. The fourth reason is this: “following Jesus is fulfilling–a journey worthy of your life. ”
Did you ever play that game-really more of an exercise-in which you imagine yourself at the end of your life. You look back at your life and think about how you’ve lived. You reflect on your life and how you’ve spent your time and energy. What do you celebrate about your life? What do you regret? What would you change? The idea is that you can change. From now on you can do things differently. Most people would do more toward building relationships. Very few people who do this exercise say they would have spent more time at the office or tried to make more money or wasted time and energy holding grudges. What values will you embrace with a greater priority? Two questions that each of us should answer after doing this exercise are: What would be on your “not to do” list and what would be on your new “to do” list?
The point of this exercise is not the future or the past. It is here and now-the present moment. The essential questions we face are: “How will i live-spend my time, energy, and money? ” “What choices will i make now concerning my life journey, my relationships, my vocation, my personal life, and my spiritual path? ” “With what sense of value and priority will i make them? ”
Christianity, like other religious traditions, teaches the basics. “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself. ” But of course, it’s up to us to do the “loving. ” We have to choose to live the values we profess. We enter communities to support us in the doing and to hold us accountable for doing what we say we value! None of it is easy, but ultimately, when you look inside yourself, it is the only life worth living.
The new Testament book of Second Timothy, one of the Pastoral epistles was most likely not actually a letter from Paul to young Timothy. Its language usage and historical references have led many reputable scholars to decide that it was non-Pauline in authorship, that it was written later in the first century, but intended to reflect the wisdom a mentor at the end of his life shared with his protégé. The elderly Paul was in prison facing death when he encouraged young Timothy. He offered him three pieces of advice about how to live a life worth living. It is good advice to us as well and we’ll be wise to heed it.