As a Follower of Jesus: On Jesus, Tribes, Love, and Why Things Mean Something Entirely Different Now

As a follower of Jesus,

a Christian,

I used to be interested in converting people
into my way of seeing, talking about and understanding God/Jesus. 

Now, I'm interested in seeing people live in the way of Jesus. To be Jesus, to be God's hands and feet in the world. And I'm particularly interested when I see people drawn in and captivated for themselves.

I still believe in the power and experience of Jesus, that the Spirit that animates the universe reveals that God looks like Jesus, and simultaneously that Jesus shows us how to be truly human. Said differently, Jesus shows us the unity of the human and the divine. I still want people to have a personal relationship with God. And by nature of that relationship being personal, it is not mine to interfere with. 

Instead, I want to love people, call them to deeper love, and invite them to live fully. I want to see people be the compelling, heretical, passionate, honest, integral and loving as I see Jesus being. I want to be like Jesus, and not simply tell other people to think how I think about Jesus.

As a follower of Jesus,

a Christian,

I used to be interested in debate about the finer points of theology. Sometimes I still am.

Increasingly, however, I'm interested in inviting people to be themselves and to tease out rich diversity in lived conversation.

There will be space for discussing and debating finer points of theology, and there will be space for the diverse views that we all bring to the table. Part of what Jesus did was to extend God's invitation of love beyond his own tribe, creating a tribe that was about seeing "the other" as part of a greater tribe, God's family. 

As a follower of Jesus,

a Christian,

I used to think it was my job to name sin. Sometimes I still get hung up on that.

Now, I realize that we all have the power and invitation to forgive. 

Humans are messy, and our capacity for great beauty is matched only by our ability for the worst atrocities imaginable. Jesus points this out, and shows us that the way forward is forgiveness. My faith is not that we humans will finally get things perfect, but that we will learn more deeply to receive and give forgiveness. Rather than holding people as guilty, I want to see people liberated. Rather than justifying condemnation, I want to hope for universal reconciliation.

Why is Jesus so compelling, so captivating? Because he turns the very artifices we create about him and ourselves on their heads. Because the tribe of Jesus isn't exclusive, monolithic or even contained within the walls of one religion or tradition, but the reign of God is experienced throughout the earth and open to all. Because as people are opened up to the reality of Love reigning over the earth, they will be inspired (filled with the spirit) to create abundant possibilities out of goodwill toward other people and the rest of the environment we share. Because while we all do have our failings, Jesus shows us that God isn't interested in our demise, but in our liberation. Because Jesus calls BS on our "right-thinking" and our pious practice and invites us into authentic life together. Because it really is as simple as loving God, ourselves and our neighbor, and that's the most difficult truism you will face in your entire life. 

I'm still a follower of Jesus,

still a Christian,

and that means something completely different now. 

Benjamin FaderComment