Don Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, To Own a Dragon and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years spoke at ACU Summit yesterday afternoon. In his talk Don spun an interesting yarn, combining spiritual thoughts with his interests in the literary craft. One of his big take-away lines was “the climax of your life is not your baptism, it is the wedding supper of the lamb (Rev. 19).
Don says that a consumer culture is laying siege to the spiritual world and the evangelical world imagines itself selling Jesus to a world with a round hole in their lives; all the square pegs of sex drugs and rock and roll don’t fit. Along comes the church to sell Jesus; the perfect fit for their problem. But wait! There’s more! Religious goods and services to go with the Jesus. How can you beat that?
Using this imagination, Jesus is commoditized and sold at the lowest price. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it cheap grace – an unconditional pass from purgatory without any transformation. Now all we have to wait for is death! The highlight of your life then is the moment you crossed over the line: from unsaved to saved.
There is only one problem with this idea of being a follower of Jesus: the Bible. The teachings of the Bible, specifically the teachings of Jesus, are ruthless on this: Being a follow of Jesus means obeying Jesus, not just admiring him. Modern day disciples cannot just be cheerleaders, Jesus boosters, nor PR agents for Christ.
Telling people about how great Jesus is without doing what Jesus says in incompatible and unacceptable. What this means is that once you put your faith in Christ you will constantly chase after Him and seek to be like him. You haven’t reached any pinnacle yet, you are still growing and still becoming. You are in the in-between, the now but not yet stage of life where the future image of Christ in you is starting to break onto the scene. He is not yet fully known in you but he is coming. This is what Jesus preached when he said, “The Kingdom of God has come near” Mark 1: 14
In short, ‘You have not arrived! Your faith in Jesus has begun you on a journey but it’s not a journey if you won’t follow him. Jesus has left the building folks! Following Jesus means exactly that: going after him and serving, suffering, being the hands and feet of Christ in your neighbourhood.
It is not enough to admire, support, or just talk about Jesus. It was never going to be.