Let's just call it out.
Christianity is more than a religion. More than a nice option. More than a belief system. More than a series of events and meetings. More than some spirtiual legal transaction between me and God.
Following Jesus used to be hardcore. Kinda' all or nothin. No half-hearted fans allowed. Jesus spent most of his life attracting crowds and then running them away. Relatively few actually followed him. He called very few who really knew him as their Master. He had the twelve, but even one of them turned out to be just a crowd member - a turncoat ready to flip flop for thirty coins.
Even after his resurrection and appearances only 120 actually believed...and that counts his mom and brothers. It aint easy to follow Jesus. It's hard. It's the kind of thing that leads to a gnarly death upside down on a cross or a lifelong banishment to some critter-filled island. It should be no surprise to us. This is the guy who said, "If you want to follow me, pick up a cross." Today he might have told us to strap into an electric chair. Joining the Jesus Club is a death wish. A true follower ends up dying to everything he once loved and valued. And death isn't easy. It hurts. A lot.
But then there's the trade-offs. Though we die, we live. We are revolutionary zombies on a secret mission from God. The undead who have died but cannot be exterminated. Our death reeks of life to the dying. We are Neo. We flip the Matrix upside down and tell the world that they are dead. We wear grace and life like a letterman jacket through the high school cafeteria. They won't admit it readily, but they want what we got.
I don't believe in just being a good person. I don't believe in just going to church. I don't believe that simple religion and mindless morality are the hope the world. I believe in Jesus. And I follow HIm...even when it sucks....even when it means picking up a cross and extending my left hand for the first nail to pierce my wrist. I don't lead, I follow. I give up. I need help. I do what he says because I'm out of ideas and out of options. Like Peter I say, "I'm with you because I got nowhere else to go."
Just thought I'd rant for a minute.
I'm teaching about this over the next four Wedneday nights in the main auditorium at The Vineyard. If you're ready to die and quit playing the cultural christianity game, come check it out.
7 pm. Four Weeks. Starting Jan 30.
What It Really Means to Follow Jesus.