21 May “Following Jesus, Not Religion” by Hayley Hutchins
In his book Speaking of Jesus, Carl Medeiras shares the testimony of a friend who worked in a tree-planting camp, and how this friend started a group that read the Gospels and talked about Jesus. His point was that this was, in essence, a Bible study, but it wasn’t called that for semantic reasons. His book emphasizes the idea that evangelism is a lot more about loving Jesus, following Jesus, and speaking of Jesus than it is about sharing proofs, doctrine, and a defense of church history. He warns against the danger of leaving Jesus out of the gospel.
I really love Jesus, but I also love ideas, and so I am more often than not more entranced by trying to think about things the right way than I am focused on following a Person who is the Truth, period.
So I’ve been thinking about the disciples.
Peter and Andrew are on the beach, and He says to them, “Follow me.”
I take it for granted that Jesus is Jesus, and there was some strange look in His eye or manner about Him that somehow persuaded Peter and Andrew to be crazy and follow Him, but I think it’s noteworthy that they didn’t get some lengthy theological explanation. Jesus didn’t sit with them and lay out His whole plan. There was no, “So, hi, I’m the Son of God, I’m going to die for your sins because I love you, and I’m going to rise again, and if you trust in Me I’ll spend eternity with you.” Boom, gospel in a sentence, but no, there was none of that. Just, “Follow me.”
And they were like, “Sure. Okay. If you say so.” Presumably because they saw the power in Him.
Along the way the disciples are always asking questions. And I love this. They are always asking the same questions I’m asking. And sometimes Jesus is like, “C’mon guys, you don’t get it?!” I love that the disciples don’t understand. I love that Jesus explains stuff to them. And I love that there’s still so much He keeps from them. They don’t even realize that He’s the Son of God until the middle of Matthew. Apologetics emphasizes that that’s a pretty important theological point. Jesus has to be God. It’s the only way all this atonement stuff adds up. But Jesus doesn’t lead with this information. Why?
I’m discovering how much I want my relationship with Jesus to have the posture of a seeker. As in, that Christianese word we use to describe someone who is interested in Jesus and wants to know more. Seekers don’t take doctrine for granted. Seekers don’t do things because it’s the “Christian” thing to do. Seekers are concerned with getting to know Jesus. Maybe because they think He’s freaking weird but maybe also because there’s just some strange look in His eye or a manner about Him. They don’t care about the religion crap or Christianity’s baggage, because they are compelled by a Person and they want to know if He’s legit.
There’s that Misty Edwards song, “I don’t wanna talk about You like You’re not in the room,” and I’m beginning to understand now what she means. I don’t believe in Jesus because it makes sense to believe in Him. I believe in Jesus because He has made Himself real to me. And I don’t want be a person who calls herself a “Christian” just like she calls herself “millennial” or “introverted” or “melancholy.” Jesus is not another idea that defines me. Ideas are important. But He is more than an idea. He is more than a definition or a label. He is a Person I am seeking, following, and unlike an idea that is a daily equilibrium, I want more and more and more of Him each day.