Thursday, August 6, 2015

Like God John 6:35-51 Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Jesus first followers didn't call themselves Christians. That word came along a good generation later in the city of Antioch, today part of Syria (Acts 11). Instead of calling themselves Christians Jesus' first followers knew themselves as disciples. They were followers of a great teacher. But Jesus was up to more that just teaching. Instead of just passing out lists of Christian like behaviors and instructions Jesus came to heal, teach, die, and rise. And He invited his first followers, and all who have believed after them, into a day in day out relationship of trust in the God the Father who they know through the life and ministry of Jesus, God own son (John 6:44-45).

Discipleship begins with God and what God has done. It grows as we trust in God knowing we belong to the one who created and redeemed us. But discipleship doesn't end either belonging to God or believing in God. Believers are invited to be imitators of God revealed in Jesus who offered himself for the world Ephesians 5:1-2.

Discipleship is not just about Christian like behavior. Wise people have said they wished Jesus would have given us a clear set of directions rather than stories to understand how God work's in our world and how we are to live in the world. We as Christians, have been blessed with human crafted—God inspired stories—that invite us to contemplate who we are and who God is. The Apostle Paul gave advice that seems easy at first glance, “ imitators of God...” Ephesians 5:1 But the more I understand the cross as full expression of Jesus love the more weight I see in Paul's calling to “imitate God.”

The plain truth is the deeper I get into Jesus story the harder I find it to live like Jesus, to truly imitate him. All four Gospels speak of the great crowds who came for the miracles and wonderful signs of Jesus. But they also speak of the consternation in the crowd when Jesus spoke of how tough it is to follow. They struggled to understand how Jesus could be the bread of life offered for the sake of the world John 6:41-42. And I struggle too and think many others wrestle with the calling to imitate God--to live and die--like Jesus.

Paul invites Jesus followers into the full depth of their calling saying, “ in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us...” It's easy to be “all in with Jesus” if love is thought of as just a weak emotion. It's so much harder to be, “all in” if loving like Jesus means both living and dying like he did.

Today I give thanks that I belong to the one who gave himself away as bread for the world. Today I give thanks for the gift of faith to say, "I believe." And I give thanks for the calling, that I will work on everyday until I die, to imitate God and live like Jesus who gave himself away.
Peace, and thanks for reading.