ReOriented: Attractional Life

“Many people followed Him from Galilee and Judea. They followed Him from the cities of Decapolis and Jerusalem. They followed Him from Judea and from the other side of the Jordan River.”

As Jesus did what Jesus did and as Jesus taught what he taught, people were drawn to him. His love and acceptance of  all people was overwhelming and people seeking hope and love wanted be around him at whatever cost. He was living and offering a new life free from the burdened life of the culture. The disciples were attracted to the life of Jesus and left everything to learn to live the life Jesus offered. When Jesus left, he told the disciples to teach others how to live this life. As they did, their life was as attractive as Jesus’. Following Jesus was a way of life not just a religion or belief system. As people lived that life, the people around them were attracted to a life free from burden and filled with love, acceptance and community.

Do we as followers of Jesus live a life that is attractive to others? Are people drawn to the Jesus that is within us? Do they experience Jesus as they experience us? St. Francis of Assisi said that we are to “preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words.” I think St. Francis was saying: “Let your life speak of the life you have found in Jesus.”

I think, for many of us, we have relied on the church to be the attraction and expression of Jesus. If I can get people to church, then they will come to know the Jesus I know and have experienced. Don’t get me wrong, the church is the body of Christ and a great expression of Jesus, but when I look at the gospels, it is Jesus living a way of life that is different from the world yet fully present in it. They didn’t follow him to Temple, they followed him everywhere he went. The church is a people beyond name, time and location.

People followed Jesus and Jesus asked the disciples to imitate his life. Imitating Jesus would mean becoming like him; doing what he did, teaching what he taught, and living the way he lived. The Apostle Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” As followers of Jesus are we imitating his life? Are people seeking after our life as people sought after Jesus? I think for many of us, this brings up a great question of whether our life is attractive and worth following. Are we even attentive to the people that are already following our lives wanting what we have? Are we willing to invite them into our lives? Are we willing to invite others to follow us as we follow Christ?

Instead of inviting them to church, what if we invited them into our lives? What if we discipled them into the life giving grace rhythms of our life? Then as one of our life rhythms they followed us into our community; church.

I think Jesus would want to say to all of us, ” Invite people into the life you have found in me.” Who is following you?

 

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ReOriented: A Narrative

 

“To follow Jesus implies that we enter into a way of life that is given character and shape and direction by the one who calls us.”                                                                   Eugene Peterson

So you have this moment in the story of Jesus, where in his death, resurrection and departure, he has called his followers to disciple others into the life he lived with them. They gather and pray together for what is next. Through the arrival of the power of the Holy Spirit, the helper Jesus promised, they share Jesus’ story in a way that everyone present could understand. All who were able to hear wanted to know what they needed to do. It says in response they repented and were baptized. Repentance meant turning and going in a complete new life direction and baptism symbolizing the death to the old life and the beginning of a new life; a way of life. These people had just been given an opportunity to live the life of Jesus that was free from the heavy burden of life politically, socially, religiously, and culturally.

How did they begin to live into this new life? It says in Act 2:42-47 that they devoted themselves to some basic things to learn how to live into this new life, a Jesus centered life. They were devoted to hearing from the disciples the teachings of Jesus. They were devoted to fellowship, a common life together; common interests, goals, character, and life rhythms. They shared meals together; something powerfully life giving around a meal. They devoted themselves to praying together.

What was the fruit from such a devoted common life together? They were in awe of the many things God did through them in the lives of others. They began to live an even more intentional life together sharing everything with one another; including all personal material things and money with all those in need. They focused their attention on God everyday at the Temple and met in homes daily sharing meals with great joy and generosity; taking communion together to remember what Jesus had done for them. And because they lived this way, authentically following in the ways of Jesus together, the Lord added to their common life together (fellowship) those whos lives were now saved from life’s burdens.

I wonder what would happen if we as Christians, Jesus followers, oriented our lives together in the same devoted life? What would happen to our lives? Would we see the awesome work of God in the lives of those around us? Would our lives look radically different from those around us? Would people desire our way of life to be free from the burdens that culturally, socially, politically, and religiously are put on us all?

Have we, the American church, allowed our culture to shape what our common life together in Jesus looks like? Have we gotten so busy with life in our culture that we literally have no time/space/capacity to even begin to live this kind of life together? Have we gotten so accustomed to life in our culture that we expect the church to reflect that life?   It might be that to follow Jesus means to turn and go in another direction from what our culture is telling us  in order to find the life we are looking for.