Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Why do you follow Jesus?

i was part of a group of three (laura, tif and i) who were in charge of leading the discussion and worship time at "The Gathering" this week. I borrowed some thoughts from shane claiborne's book "the irresistible revolution". he has the following quote from tony campolo.

"would you still follow Jesus, if there were no heaven or hell? would you follow him for the life, joy and fulfillment he gives you right now?"

i really like this question. i believe it helps us better understand the depth of our faith. what is our purpose behind our relationship with jesus. does this relationship affect the choices we make on a daily basis? does this relationship affect what we value (maybe like budgets and politics)? does it affect how we interact with god and other people (maybe even transexuals or our ex-wives who cheated on you)? i think it does, but let me take a look at the lack of infatuation with the after life that the jews had in the old testament. Here are two interesting quotes about the Old Testament and the after life.

"Both the lack of obvious religious rites at burial and the lack of interest in graves confirm that Israelite life and faith were centered on the present life and relating to Yahweh in the here and now. Death was the end of this life, not the start of the next…”

Shades of Sheol by Phillip Johnston

The ancient Jews seemed to be focused on remaining part of God’s blessing or covenant on their land in this history, not on achieving life after death beyond history. They wanted to stay reconciled to God so that neither they nor their descendants would lose their land or status as God’s special and chosen people. The Jewish sacrificial system… was instituted to help the people deal with the gap between God’s law and their failure to fulfill it.

“The Last Word and the Word After That” by Brian McClaren

the quotes make it very apparent that the hebrew people were focused on following god in this present world. they were focused on god's promises and ensuring that those promises were passed on to their anscestors. it seems like many people who follow jesus, follow him out of an appreciation that they will not be sent to hell and it can become very selfish (maybe just my perception). most of the people that i meet who are focused on following jesus for the love, joy, fullfillment and mystery of it are usually more about other people and less about themselves.

the hebrews were great at passing thier faith on to the next generation. i think the younger generation want to see a faith that affects they way we interact with our world, people outside our belief system, the poor and those that are forgotten by society. if our faith only secures them a place in heaven (which by the way i do believe in heaven), we continue to raise children who believe our faith is out of touch with this world.

the scary aspect... i think jesus just might agree with them. will you follow jesus for the love, joy, excitement, fulfillment and mystery that it provides? will you live a jesus based faith and not a heaven vs hell based faith?


No comments: