Summer is almost over, and I have to say, it’s great to finally be home. It was a long journey back from our vacation in Bridgton Maine. We left a couple of days ago and finally got back last night. We were supposed to simply get on a plane and Uber home. But that’s not what happened.
Fun fact: It’s cheaper to rent a pick up truck than it is a sedan. Did you know that? I found this out when our flight was cancelled and we had to get to the only airport on the east coast that had a plane with three available seats on it. That plane would leave JFK International Airport 24 hours later. The only way to get there was to rent a car and drive through four states in total darkness.
Now, I will make this sound easier than it really was, but instead of losing our cool and getting upset, Kathleen and I decided to give our problem to God and followed God’s lead to wherever we were led. The first stop was Enterprise Rental Cars…or pick up truck in our case. Six hours later we were in the Courtyard Marriott in Spanish Harlem neighborhood of New York City. As a result of following God’s lead, I got to spend a perfect morning with entire family in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. God always has some unexpected surprises if you know where to look.
The moral of this lesson: Follow God. And while we’re on the topic of following...
Here’s another fun fact: Did you know Katy Perry is the most followed person on Twitter? She has over 107 million followers. That’s crazy. People love to follow celebrities, their words, lifestyles, diets and sometimes fashion choices. They want to know all about them, interact with them and be like them.
It’s one thing to follow someone you admire on Twitter or Instagram, but it’s another to imitate their lives and do what they tell you to do. That’s why it’s important to choose the right people to follow. And not just on social media.
Many times people wanted to follow Jesus, but he discouraged them saying you’ll have to give up all your possessions, your family, your home. And there’s a good chance you will be tortured and killed for doing so. He doesn’t sell it very well.
Yet, out of all the people who have ever lived, Jesus has the largest number of followers. In fact, today there are over 2.4 billion people in the world who call themselves Christians. Many want to to know him, to be with him, and to do everything that Jesus asks them to do. But how many of us “Christians” are actually willing to deny ourselves, to pick up a cross and follow Christ to those places we fear to go? Which takes us to our question for the day.
In Luke 6, Jesus is instructing people on the cost of discipleship. What it means to follow him. In what looks like a series of tweets, Jesus lays out God’s agenda,...which includes the beatitudes and Golden Rule. But towards the end, in verse 46, Jesus asks: “Why do you call me Lord, but not do what I tell you to do?”
Sit on that for a moment. Scroll through your head, and thank about the last 24 hours of your life. How would you answer his question? “Why do you call me Lord, but not do what I tell you to do?”
It’s not fair to take one sentence from the Bible and base your entire faith upon it. We need context if our answer is going to be meaningful.But this particular verse is like ordering a ham sandwich and only eating the meat.This question is a meal all on its own.
Of all the questions Jesus asked, this is the one we need to chew on everyday. Every Christian should wake up asking, “What can I do today to be more kind, more forgiving, more compassionate, more like Jesus?” Before we close our eyes, we should reflect on the those things that we did...or perhaps did not do but could have.
This question causes me to take inventory of my own life. Not so I can check off a box from a list of things to do. I do it so that I can remain present in my heart and in my faith and with my Lord. By looking at what I did and did not do, I am reminded of who Jesus is, and the grace that is given to me because of what he did for me.
Jesus is a man of action. His words matter because what he says and does for others changes their lives forever. If we decide to call ourselves Christians, to call Christ our Lord, then we ought to be like Christ each and every day. With our heart, and not just our mouth.
In Matthew, Jesus He tells a parable about a dad who needs his two sons to go plow the land. The first kid said he wasn’t going to help, but actually did while the other said he would go but never showed up. In this parable, Jesus prefers the one who does the right thing than the one who merely says the right words.
What we do matters more than what we say. Politicians say the right stuff to get elected, but very few actually follow through on their promises. And let’s face it, historically Christianity hasn’t always been good at imitating the actual life and teachings of the man we call Lord.
Jesus doesn’t want words, he wants action. He doesn’t want us to simply believe. He wants us to be transformed and healed in the process. Jesus wants our faith to mean something for ourselves and others. And of course, for the Kingdom of God.
Jesus doesn’t ask for a sinner’s prayer, but invites us to be with the sinners, to be the love and grace of God in the world to those who need it the most. We need to get off our knees and onto our feet; to take God’s love and make a difference to others. We can’t claim Christianity with our lips if Christ is not present in our hearts.
Here are three simple things you can do right now to do what Jesus calls all of us to do. First, you can show compassion to others by entering their hearts with Christ like love.
This is as simple as being mindful and truly present in life. Look around you and you will see that there is always someone who needs your help, and your heart. It might mean you have to listen to a story you’ve heard a thousand times before. Or enter a person’s pain, brokenness, fear, confusion and anguish.
As Henri Nouwen taught, “Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless.Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”
Time and time again, Jesus showed compassion for the sick, the dying, the grieving, and the stranger. Even when he was tired, and needed sleep, “Jesus saw the crowds and had compassion on them.” To do what Jesus did is to show your heart to others. To love all people... no matter what. Just as God loves and shows compassion to us, so too must we go and do the same.
Another thing you can do today is serve someone in need, but to do so without expecting anything in return.
Maybe someone needs you to pick something up. Or to help them with a problem or project. Maybe you know someone who is sick or going through treatment for cancer or rehabilitation after surgery. Perhaps it’s their family that needs you. You have to ask yourself, how can I be the presence of Christ in their situation? How can I do this selflessly like Jesus did, not expecting anything in return?
When I was going through cancer treatment, my dear friend Kevin took me to the hospital every Monday for my chemo session. It was nice to get a ride and have company, but what mattered more was knowing I had a friend who wanted to help...and didn’t expect anything in return. His love, as was the love of so many others who helped my family get through this event, let me know that I was not alone. God was with me, because God was making himself known in them.
Kevin still serves others with a heart of Christ. And in doing so, teaches us and reminds us to do the same. He is an important part of our church family for this very reason. Jesus fed people, and healed and helped others without ever expecting or asking for anything in return. He trusted God’s lead, and followed God’s will and not his own.
What Jesus did on the cross for us and for the world is impossible to repay. I don’t think God gives us love and grace so we will be indebted, but so we can be God’s love and grace for one another. One more reason why important to follow and obey the right people.
The third thing you can do is to share your story with others.
Don’t be afraid to admit your faith, even if you don’t fully understand it. People are curious creatures. They want to know you and because of that curiosity they can get to know God’s love for them...if you are willing to share it with them. You don’t have to be perfect, just present, authentic, and honest, even if you constantly mess up.
Your willingness to allow God to work through you is a great testimony to how God works in the world. In fact, I’ve discovered some of my best stories stem from my greatest failures. So be honest, be vulnerable, be willing to put your faith out there by being who Jesus wants you to be.
Other things you can do is to refuse to bully people. Or condemn those who are not like you. Stop judging and start loving people for who they are...beloved children of God. Jesus taught us that if we are easy on one another then life will become a lot easier. Give away your life and you will receive more than you could ever imagine. It’s who we are to others…that counts in the Kingdom of God. Thus Jesus wants us to have the heart of Christ inside us, and the hands of Christ in the world.
It’s a lot to ask of anyone, and at times you might think you don’t know what to do. If that happens, just ask yourself what you’d like Jesus to do for you and go and do that for people in your life. Jesus was a man of action. His words were verbs and imperatives. Go. Be. Do. Follow. Lend. Help. Forgive. Heal. Feed. Love. Selflessly and freely.
Many will say yes, but who will actually show up to do the work? Who will be like Christ and help bring healing to our suffering and brokenness? Who will see what Jesus does and take it out into the world to do the will of God so that others can see Christ in their midst and chose to follow the one we call Lord?
Through Christ, God is leading you to an everlasting life... but will you follow? Will you build your life on the rock of the one who asks, “Why do you call me Lord, but do not do what I say?”
Let us pray:
Oh wonderful God, we pray for your Spirit to be with us, and to lead us to do your will, as we seek to bear the good fruit of your kingdom just as our Lord Jesus the Christ taught us to do. May all that we do in his blessed name reflect your glory, now and forever, Amen.
has been blogging under the name: Jesus not Jesús: Looking for Christ in the face of strangers. You can read his posts and browse his archives by clicking here.
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