The Hardest “Have-to’s” of Following Jesus

In 2022, most people equate Christianity with morality. Many people see this as a great victory for the church, but Jesus’ prayer was that we would be known by our love for one another. That’s in the gospel of John.

Jesus spent very little time teaching the moral don’ts – don’t go here or there or associate with him or her, or drink or eat this or that. Heaven help us, there are still gads of people in the church who believe Jesus was primarily concerned with cleaning up people’s behavior, so we could be set apart as holy.

We’ve set ourselves apart alright. I’d be the first to agree that he cared (and so too should we) about what we look like after we’ve been with him, but his idea was that it would show in our actions and attitudes. He was always about change happening from the inside out and understood such a process would show on the outside over time.

The best kind of morality (the kind that doesn’t force itself on anyone or ever deign to judge others in haughty condescension) comes from within a person, not without. Having searched and known our own hearts, we surrender to a better way, and allow God to change us from within. Lord, help me be more patient. Help me to be kind to this person that brings out the parts of me I’d much rather never see. Help me to forgive. Again. This becomes our manner of prayer, instead of asking God to make the person we struggle with a more bearable version of themself. We ask God to search us and try us and know our anxious heart and see if there is any hurtful way in us, that he may reveal it and lead us in a new way that is everlasting. From Psalm 139.

Jesus is like a master coach. A lesser teacher, perhaps in a hurry to see things done, covers the hand of the one they have charge of and writes for them as they first learn their letters. Jesus has a different method. He shows us the letters – how each is unique and necessary – how they sound and fit together to make words and wisdom and poetry and even life when we speak them into each other’s hearts like we know we were meant to. We want to know them as he does. He wins us to them and we learn them because we want to, understanding what a gift they are to us.

We don’t see a record of Jesus pounding things into people, but rather drawing the best out of them. We believe in what Jesus has explained about who he is, and why he came, and God fills us with his Spirit, who challenges us daily to do things his way, not ours.

It’s like having a vet cone around our neck – our days of navel gazing must come to an end.

Love without exception. Forgive without hesitation. Give without reservation. Honor others as greater than ourselves.

With Jesus, it’s ALWAYS about loving others well and loving God well. The doing of those two things “sums up the whole book,” he explained.

So I’m going to blog about a few of the things that have been harder for me than others in this walk of surrender to Jesus’ ways. Things like forgiveness, giving beyond my means, loving the poor, disagreeing with honor and respect, being loyal, being authentic, and sharing my life with whoever needs it most at any given time.

I’ll start with forgiveness, so check in soon. Let me know if there are issues that you’re still struggling with and I’ll try to communicate what I’ve learned thus far. I don’t profess to have all the answers, but we each have pieces of the puzzle that will help things come into focus if we share.

Love to you!

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