“Following Jesus” can seem so mysterious and ethereal that we don’t know where to start, what to do or to who we should do it. Many of you know my theological debt to the work of Bishop Tom Wright. In several places he has written or said something like this:
“We are not to repeat what Jesus did but to implement his achievement.”
That quote helps a great deal to have an imagination for what it means to “follow Jesus” when we cannot die for the sins of the world. But it may raise a further question: just what was Jesus’ achievement? What were his aims? For purposes of this short blog we could start with these thoughts:
- Jesus reconstituted the people of God (now the Gentiles are included!) around him and his preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom. So the follow Jesus means in part to become one his people and work with him to reveal the power and ultimate goodness of the kingdom of God…
- Jesus called people to follow him as a way of learning to be God’s cooperative friends to announce, embody and demonstrate the kingdom of God in their everyday lives…such a life brings the goodness of Jesus’ triumph to the sin-confused, painful and unjust elements of the world…
- God then enabled follower-ship of Jesus by sending the power of the Holy Spirit to the church. This love and power impart capacity (gifts), transformation (fruit) and “sentness” (think of the sending passages in Luke 9 and 10; 24.49; John 20, etc.) that animates the one who chooses to follow Jesus for the sake of others, for the sake of carrying out his once and for all achievement on the cross to forgive, deliver, heal and make new.
There, at least, is a first step or two forward in following Jesus.