Daily Devotion - Wednesday, January 20, 2016
"Keep knocking and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look to see who's out there." - Rumi (11th century)
I've been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to be a sold-out, bet-the-farm, wild-eyed follower of Jesus. And by sold-out, bet-the-farm, wild-eyed follower, I don't mean someone who is mean, angry or belligerent. I also don't mean someone who is off his rocker--at least not in a bad way. Although, I've learned over the years a little bit of crazy can be a good thing when you want to follow Jesus properly.
What I mean is that it takes passion and desire to be a Jesus-follower. That's the difference in being an admirer of Jesus and a follower. An admirer lacks the passion and desire that permeate a follower. A follower of Jesus gets up, acts and moves, putting one foot in front of the other as they follow (often stumbling) in Jesus' footsteps. An admirer, will pretty much stay on the couch where it's safe.
Lots of people merely admire Jesus, even people who claim to be his followers. Admirers of Jesus tend to hold his teachings at arms length--a safe distance from them lest they be affected by them completely. The fact is, when you fully embrace the teachings of Jesus you can't help but become a follower. If you fully follow Jesus, all other relationships, desires and passions will fall in behind him in the priorities of your life.
Jesus once declared to his followers, "Whoever loves father and mother more than me is not fit to be my disciple. Anyone who loves son or daughter more than me is not fit to be my disciple." (Matthew 10:37) That's a hard thing to hear, to be sure. It's the kind of demand that keeps a lot of people on the couch, admiring Jesus from afar.
But when you dig deeper into Jesus' teachings you begin to see an interesting pattern. If you put Jesus first, you begin to want the same things that Jesus wants. And what Jesus came to do, what Jesus wants more than anything, is for Creation to be redeemed and the Kingdom of God to be fully realized. And if you seek what Jesus wants first, all of the other things in your life will fall into proper place.
Jesus urges us to follow him and seek God's kingdom above all else. And it's no mystery what it takes in order to do just that: passion and desire. Jesus told his disciples that the answers to all their questions, the fulfillment of all they desired, all of this was right in front of them if they only had the passion to find them. "Knock," Jesus told his followers, "and the door will be opened unto you. Seek, and you will find." (Matthew 7:7)
May you, in this new year, discover the passion and desire that it takes to fully follow Jesus. May you become a sold-out, bet-the-farm, wild eyed follower, who stumbles after him, seeking, knocking, desiring only what Jesus desires. May the Kingdom of God spring up all around you as you go, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.