I heard it said of Gandhi, that he considered himself a follower of Jesus without being a Christian. This is my goal!
See, to me “being a Christian” means following a religion. Jesus and his disciples advocated relationship rather than religion. Jesus could even be considered to be anti-religious.
“A religion is a set of beliefs and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience. The term “religion” refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.”
The problem with religion is that it depends more on an Old Covenant mindset than a New Covenant one. The Old Covenant was ritual and effort based; the New Covenant rejects all ritual, practice and effort as a means to attain any form of goodness or sense of identity. The very act of trying to live a good and godly life is rooted in law when that life is the result of principles and guidelines rather than the life of Jesus.
Most of the Christian communities are bound up, to some degree, in living in the law; of being religious. It may not be the overt Old Testament law, but in as much as there are principles or expectations that we are trying to live by or are laying out for others to live by, we are living under the law. Also the the various rituals and practices of our community become our tradition and it is in these traditions that we often get our sense of belonging and identity.
Now I don’t know where Gandhi was regarding a relationship with Jesus. If by following Jesus he meant taking the teachings of Jesus to heart, believing what Jesus said and doing those things, then, though he may not have been a Christian, he would have been religious. Turning the other cheek would have become just another ritual, just another law to keep.
Jesus said that it was better for us if he left, because then he would give us the Holy Spirit to abide in us and us in him. Not only would it be better for me, but it would be better for John. Better for Matthew. Better for all the original disciples.
Think about that.
These folks sat around fires, eat meals and talked face to face with Jesus. And yet Jesus said that his going would mean that they would be better off – because he was going to send them the Holy Spirit. I think, “come on, give me a break. How many of us would give up the Holy Spirit for just one week of living with the real man Jesus?” And yet Jesus said …
It is my greatest desire to follow Jesus. Not his teachings. Not the bible. But the abiding presence of the Living God! Everything else is crap! Everything.
The word of God is that which is abiding in me. It is not the Bible. Compared to this word of God, the bible is crap!
Community starts with me and Jesus abiding in me and flows out to others with this same presence in them. Compared to that, the Sunday morning ‘Christ Clubs‘ are crap! And even the best time of ‘corporate singing‘ is crap!
Prayer is living in the abiding presence of Jesus. It is intimacy with Christ. This means that prayer without ceasing is really possibility. Compared to this, attending another prayer meeting to meet my or anther’s expectations on what we think prayer is, well this too is crap.
Abiding in the Living God, and following His Moving is life – abundant life. Chasing after yet another movement of God is chasing after crap (BM)!
I am not saying that all this crap is worth nothing in our lives, just that compared to a living relationship with Jesus everything is, well you know, crap.
However, if you still need a label to stick on me so that you have a better understanding of were I’m coming from then for today you can call me post-charismatic, even post-evangelical even post-protestant. Or you could call me emergent, or missional, or …
Really, just call me a follower of Jesus, an apprentice.