Marching Orders

 

 

“Follow Me.”

He could have been talking to the brightest, most well-educated man He found. He could’ve been speaking with a businessman who had seen enormous success, so much so that the money from a potential partnership would more than pay for His expenses. He could’ve been talking to those who would’ve led a militia and fought for Him as king.

But no… His summons was to some grimy fishermen, fixing their broken nets beside an inland lake.

“Follow Me.”

Another summons. Would it be any different this time?

Would He call the chief priest to join His band of beleaguered followers? Would He call the holiest, most spiritually prepared person for the kingdom He claimed was arriving?

No. This summons was more shocking than the first. He called a man involved in the most corrupt business of all – collecting taxes for Rome. Even more unlikely.

“Follow Me.”

Once may be a surprise. Twice is a strange coincidence. Three times is definitely a pattern. Whom is He calling now? The fishermen who left their nets and their families behind – they were strange enough. The tax collector who left behind his life of bribery and extortion – that was daring enough. But perhaps this next summons is most shocking of all.

He has called you. It’s your name on His lips.

Calling you in the midst of your darkness, piercing your corrupted heart, stilling your deceitful tongue. Calling you despite your broken and painful past, your worried future, your guilt-filled present.

You.

Two thousand years later. In a different time, in a different place. But it’s the same Galilean voice.

You have  things to do, people to see, meetings to attend, children to tend to, parents to mind, activities you are trying to press into an already squeezed schedule. You are the picture of busyness, the example of the one who has places to go and things to do.

And yet quietly walking past you in the midst of your darkest  struggle, in spite of your most crippling sin, He issues His royal summons.

How you respond to His summons will change your life forever. Either you will decide to continue on your path, living for yourself, following your heart, your own desires, your so-called paths to happiness and right living. Or you will give up your aspirations, dreams, ambitions, goals, and surrender your will to the King who is calling your name.

The summons is directed to you. But it’s not about you.

That’s the difference between Christianity as it should be and Christianity as it has become. We live in a world where many Christians still live for themselves. When “Follow Me” means “Let Me make you happy.” When “I have come to give life” means “I’ll give you money.” When “I have called you My friends” means “We can steer this life together.” When the royal summons to follow the King turns into a private devotion to buddy Jesus.

And in this crumbling world around us, beautiful even now despite the horrors thatcontinually take place within it -from Mali to Syria, Jesus is still calling. He invites us to take the journey behind Him, to allow His cloak of righteousness to cover our sin as we walk closely behind. Step by step.

Jesus invites us to the religious experience of a lifetime, precisely because this journey is not about having a religious experience. Adventure is promised, but not just the thrill-seeking adventure we desire, a way of satisfying our innate need for something bigger than ourselves. Adventure comes because that real need is only met when we realize that Christianity is not about us; it’s not about my personal religious faith that I practice in the prayer closet;  and it’s not about my secure, prepared heavenly afterlife. Granted, all those get thrown into the mix.

 

But the center of Christianity is the Christ  the “ianity” follows.

The summons is a royal one. The Messiah has beckoned. The King has spoken.

Each morning, as we wake up and our feet hit the floor, we ought to remember – “I’ve been summoned. Today belongs to my King.”

And that changes everything.

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