Our biggest job as Christians is following Jesus Christ, and our greatest joy is our relationship with Him.
But our biggest challenge is avoiding the “weeds” of everyday life.
Christianity, first and foremost, is about relationship. Plenty of people though – both inside and outside the faith – view “following Christ” as primarily about obedience. When obedience is Christianity’s sum total, Jesus presents a burdensome equation. Anybody can devise rules, and people usually do. One of the things God teaches us in the Old Testament is that people crave rules but typically are bad at following them.
Jesus speaks often about obedience, but His most common instruction to mankind is “Follow me.” This directive paves two concurrent roads: man’s salvation and God’s glory. Following Jesus, we travel the Kingdom road of righteousness in peace and relationship with God, navigating the perils of this fallen worldly realm. Our trust and confidence are secure in the truth of the destination: the everlasting loving glory of heavenly adoption as sons and daughters of the one true God.
Our motivation to follow Jesus centers on faith, truth, love, and freedom. Faith, truth and love are common-enough sermon topics, but freedom is often overlooked. Why? Possibly due to overbearing church narratives that focus on “obedience” to keep the flock in step. Nonetheless, freedom is a necessary condition for love and joy. We cannot truly and joyously love something because we are instructed to. Love can’t be forced, joy can’t be codified, and freedom can’t be overlooked. Loving relationship transcends mere obedience.
In Heaven, everything begins with relationship – the Godhead community of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our entry, or rather our restoration, into that community is through our faithful relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus, in John 14:6, says that’s the only way.
Still, “Following Jesus” is a “want to” not a “have to.” Jesus teaches a lesson that Old Testament laws could not: that righteousness and glory reside in God’s love, not in man’s obedience. The Kingdom is un-coerced relationship; following Jesus is a choice.
And, O Lord, don’t we live in a world of choices.
Cue the weeds.
Jesus promises (Matthew 13:24-30) that at the final harvest weeds will be gathered and burned, and the wheat will be gathered and stored. Thanks to Satan and his self-glorifying mischief, humanity is dangerously and overwhelmingly attracted to the Jesus-blurring weeds strewn throughout this world.
In this life, we have a job to do, a relationship to tend, and a choice to make.
At the harvest, when the job is done, the choice will be made for us.
Walters (email@example.com) thanks Pastor Bob Larimer for a thought-provoking sermon on “Weeds” this summer at northern Michigan’s Blaine Christian Church.