We often treat our churches like we would the place where we get our haircut or the restaurant that the service wasn’t that great. If we don’t like it, we leave, never look back and look for the next service, the next small group and the next worship experience. Let me be perfectly clear, you will never find that place if this is how you’ve done church up until this point. There are people at every church you will attend that have the potential to rub you the wrong way and say things that you don’t like. Welcome to humanity!
That being said, we as the church do have a responsibility to be like Jesus. John puts it this way: “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:6
This sentence comes from a letter that is written by John, a disciple/ follower of Jesus, but it is unclear exactly who the recipient of this letter would be. More than likely it was written to church leaders who were in Ephesus, which was the capital of the Roman province in Asia at the time. The people who were in the churches at the time were really struggling with who to follow. Some of the Christians were doing a good job of sticking to the things Jesus said to do. Others…not so much. There were followers who had decided that they needed to become Jewish first and then a Christian afterwards. That’s a lot of hoops to jump through right? First become this religion and then you can join our religion. I’m tired just typing that, so I’ll move on.
The next group just took the life of Jesus and added it to all of the other religions they had adopted. Many years ago my mom and step dad told me a story about a guy they met in a restaurant bar while they were waiting for their table. He had the Star of David hanging around his neck with the cross behind the star. Puzzled by the necklaces he was wearing, my mom asked about it. He politely answered, “The Star of David is because I am Jewish.” My mom then said “And the cross?” The man replied “Just in case I’m wrong!” Funny story but many of us do this with what we believe about Jesus. We just add it to the many beliefs we have “just in case we are wrong.” Ancient Christianity suffered from the same problem. They weren’t sure that this Christianity thing was going to take off so they added it to their current beliefs.
John writes this verse to make it clear. The essence to a strong connection with God is to hold unswervingly to the life of Jesus. That’s it! At the time this passage was written, walking was the primary means to get places. Walking meant that you were going from point A to point B. Progress was happening when you walked. To make progress in your life with God, you have to imitate Jesus’ life.
If this is true, why is it that most of us don’t look like Jesus. Please understand me, I’m talking about myself here as well as the whole of Christianity. Why don’t we look more like Jesus if we are “disciples” or “followers” of Him?
We are often identified as bigots, hate mongers and hypocrites. Something’s broken right? We need to fix this don’t we? What are our options you ask? That’s why I’m writing this book. Let’s go on this journey together. I think this is where we start. A life spent following Jesus might be identified as people that love others relentlessly. That’s why the premise of this book is this:
Relentlessly loving others in a world that tears them apart.