Have you ever found yourself in a position with someone in your community making pretty serious demands from you from a place of pain, anxiety, ambition, or discontent? Would your response be to say, “Finally, someone who is willing to get real with what they want!” Or would you immediately start working on a plan to ensure everyone is happy?Read More
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
A few years ago, I heard Russ Johnson say that this is a promise not a demand. How strange, right? Many of teachers have used this in an opposite way to convict listeners into obedience. Obedience is emphasized as a way of proving that you love Jesus. Focus on obedience in order to prove your love.
Have you heard this before?
Love and Desire
I’ve spent a good deal of time navigating the role of desire (wants) in following Jesus thus far on my blog. Mainly because it has become so central to my own discipleship and discipling of others. The most important question we can ask is, “What do you want?”
Jesus ask this question over and over in a number of ways with his disciples (e.f. John 1:38, Mark 10:36, John 21:15). Helping them name and own what they wanted was a normative practice.
Returning to this verse, something recently stood out to me. For Jesus, love wasn’t feel good feelings or the joy you feel when being with people that made life easy. It was an intentional willingness to be with and for another person. Love was a choice. It’s something we want to do. Love cannot be coerced. Even more, love does not coerce.
Jesus didn’t say this at the beginning of his ministry with them. It was at the end. He had spent 3 years doing the necessary scaffolding for this statement to make sense. No amount of guilt, shame, or fear creates the kind of person who can walk in the way of Jesus in any situation. Only a heart that has been formed in his love.
Priority of the Heart
Jesus promises that those who love him will obey him. We spend a great deal trying to get Christians to behave. And without creating a dichotomy, our priority must be to engage the heart; to engage what we actually want. Our aim in discipleship isn’t moral perfection or simply compliance but love.
If we are to become the kinds of people who can follow and walk in the way of Jesus (keep his commandments), we must get real about what we really want and submit them to Jesus, to hear good news from him and have those desires reordered.
If you love me, Jesus ask, assumes you’ve been doing the necessary work of owning and naming what you actually want in relationship with him and others.
So, what do you want? Or in the words of YG, “Who do you love?”
By contrasting discipling against convincing, I am using each as metaphors to name a particular posture we may inhabit as we seek to help others follow Jesus in concrete situations and challenges.
Here’s how I’m a describing each posture:Read More
Lent imitates the 40 day fast of Jesus in the wilderness where I learn to say no to my appetite for food or to be in the know on social media. With the body of Jesus, we willingly make ourselves weak so that we learn in a concrete way that we are not satisfied by bread alone but by the word of God, Jesus. In this, the Spirit of Jesus enables us to see and live into a reality that wasn’t accessible to us before.Read More
Jacob, the brother of Jesus says to receive the word of God with meekness, which is able to save our souls. There is so much baggage around that word souls that we don’t have time to get into but this statement will serve this particular post specifically in regards to ‘receiving good news’. If you want an introduction into re-thinking the concept of soul, click the hyperlink.Read More
If we are to be a people formed by the story of Jesus we have to receive it again and again. It’s not sufficient to simply hear it and be reminded of it. We must (re)learn how to receive the word with meekness which is able to save our living, breathing, embodied selves i.e. our souls.Read More
Jesus began his ministry proclaiming, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the good news.” Centuries of waiting, but it is here. What God has promised to do has dawned on the world in Jesus, the son of Mary. If anyone is confused about the heart of the gospel, it is this: God’s kingdom has broken into the present evil age and is being made available through Jesus.Read More
Genuine transformation is hard to find. Faithful church attendance, full participation in small groups, and for the advanced; serving in a church ministry, is not indicative that you are learning to live into the abundant kind of life that Jesus offers.Read More
In the midst of the sub-Christian culture war, I picked the Neo-reformed side. It wasn’t until after the banter calmed down that I was able to reckon with my own perceptions of the gospel. I want to share five paradigm shifts that took place post-war of who gets to define the gospel.Read More
What do you want?
This question is fundamental for every human being. It shapes and drives everything that we do. We hunger and thirst for a certain kind of life; our own version of the abundant life and then we create plans, theologies, or ideologies to justify and satisfy our wants, desires, and dreams.Read More
Words like repent or repentance are common in Christian vocabulary. We hear it in sermons, scripture, and in casual conversation. But how often do we take time to reassess what it actually means?Read More
When we learn to wait “as the beloved of God”, we’re enabled to love well. Presence, listening, patience, kindness, faithfulness, self control, and gentleness are suffocated by an anxious person who can’t control their inhibitions. If we are unable to live in the love of God, trusting in his fatherly care, we’ll be incapacitated in our ability to love others. We’ll instead be demanding, coercive, manipulative, or check out. The wait is just too burdensome.Read More
The good news is that Jesus is not like us. He does not see authority like we do. He does not seek to consolidate authority for himself. He does not think, maybe I should give my authority to people I know will not make a mess a things. But authority embodied by Jesus is not about meticulous control. It is about empowerment and freedom into a life transforming vocation.Read More
Can you relate to this? Feeling stuck in a cycle of failure, shame, and then over time, finding renewed energy to follow Jesus; only to fail…again. The cycle of shame and guilt continues on and on, forming us more and more into the types of people who can’t stand the presence of God.Read More