Tuesday, August 2, 2011


One of the questions I think about most is, "What does it really mean to follow Jesus?"

I know what it means to be religious, to be a good American Christian, to be a good church member, even a good preacher. But what does it mean to genuinely be a follower, a real disciple, of Jesus?

I've been exposed to a lot of blogs, books, and sermons that deal with this. Sadly, most of them are framed negatively. What most of them basically say is, "We have a problem! We're not disciples, we're just religious! Rant, rant, rant..." But the problem is that I get that. All you have to do is look around to see that. When I first started seriously reading the Bible at 17 it didn't take me but a couple of days of reading Acts to go, "Wait a minute. What I see in church today doesn't match this... like, at all. I know a lot of religious people. But I've never met anyone like the guys I'm reading about. Something's wrong."

Now, I'm not writing this blog post to say I have all the right answers on how to fix this. I don't. But I am trying to be a follower of Jesus, whatever the cost. And in an honest exploration of the Scriptures I believe we can plainly see what it looks like to follow Christ.

One story that hits home for me in this is the story in Luke 7. This is such a humbling and profound event to read about. Jesus enters the home of a religious guy who doesn't follow the customary tradition of washing his feet or anointing him with oil. Then there's this lady, who's probably a prostitute. She comes in among all these religious people, and ordinarily she would be nervous and embarrassed out of her mind to go there. They know who she is, and they've got to be staring daggers at her. For whatever reason, this woman is sitting at Jesus' feet weeping, probably overwhelmed by the sin in her life. She even wipes his feet with her tears, the very feet the religious guy was supposed to clean, but completely ignored. And on top of that, she's dumping perfume on His feet, a big source of livelihood for her because it's probably a tool she uses to seduce men. There she is, completely vulnerable and bare in front of Jesus. The religious guy not only ignored common courtesy for Jesus, but then scoffs at Jesus for letting this woman touch Him.

Scoffing and weeping. What a contrast between two people who spent time with Jesus.

I wonder which one I am. When I reflect on my faith, I notice a caution, a carefulness, a "balance." I love Jesus, but my emotions are held back so that I don't come off as strange, I guess. I wonder what that says about my gratitude and devotion to Jesus. Here's this woman, totally bare before Jesus, and not just in private. She's in front of highly religious people who are not at all approving of her behavior, yet she displays a completely vulnerable devotion to Jesus. And Jesus honors this about her. He doesn't tell her she's being too emotional or too extreme. He's pleased with it, and commends her faith.

I think part of being a disciple of Jesus starts with a vulnerable, heartfelt devotion to Him. Simple admiration won't do. Jesus isn't looking for admiration, but devotion. He's looking for nothing-held-back, ignoring-the-status-quo, heart-bleeding devotion to Him by people who don't care what it looks like. It may come across as weak, too emotional, too transparent, or even as immature. But who cares. This is where following Jesus begins.