Sunday, June 21, 2009

Come, Follow, Abide--Day One

Several of my friends are away on service projects this week--some to Appalachia, others to flood-devastated parts of eastern Iowa. I wrote some devotional pieces for the Kentucky trip, but I thought I'd post them here as a sort of act of solidarity. We're not with them in fact, but we can with them in spirit, I suppose.

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A lot of people these days think of Christianity as a giant buzzkill, an endless to-do list. Consequently, a lot of people these days have decided that they have better things to do with their time than to get involved in any kind of organized religion.

They’re right about one thing, at least. Christianity has its share of rules—commandments, some might say. But Jesus, from whom Christianity takes its cues, famously contrasted his own requirements of those who called him Lord with those of the religions of his day:

“Do not do what they [other religious authorities] do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:3)
“I have come that they [people like you and me] may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
“My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30).


The thing that often gets lost amid all the complaints about Christianity’s rigidness is that the commands that come from Jesus’ lips, as radical as they are, are not orders against particular things but rather instructions to live in a particular way.

Jesus calls us to come to him, a command that on its surface is not difficult but once obeyed involves all sorts of life-changes.

Jesus calls us to follow him, a reminder that he himself is not cemented into the ground, living a static, lifeless life; but rather is on the move, taking us somewhere.

Jesus calls us to abide in him, a suggestion that whatever lies out in front of us, he intends to share it with us.

All these commands are directive: none requires a subject to the sentence. “Come to me.” “Follow me.” “Abide in me.” Read in isolation they sound so sterile, so formal, so rigid. They almost sound like dares. And yet each such command is filled with life because Jesus himself is alive—more alive than perhaps we can imagine—and he intends for us life, and life to the full.

So as you leave the comfort of your home and your friends and your normal patterns of life, take the dares that Jesus presents you with—real, live dares that come in the form of the people with you and the people you’ll meet and serve—and dare to live the life that Jesus intends for you. You may find it easier—and fuller—than you expected.

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