Sunday, February 13, 2011

Reflections from the book of John #9: You are my disciples IF . . .

Lots of people believed Jesus.  At least for a while.  As long as he healed and gave out free bread.  As long as they hoped he might overthrow the Romans and establish Israel as the greatest nation in the region.

But that wasn't Jesus' plan.  And ultimately the people, many of whom used to believe in him, many of whom called out, "Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," yelled "Crucify him" instead.

It's funny.  Saying we believe in Jesus doesn't necessarily mean we want to serve him or follow him or obey him.

Jesus tells those who believe in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."  (John 8:31)

We are truly his disciples, or followers, when we remain faithful to what Jesus says.  When we pay attention to what he says, reading the Bible, listening to biblical teaching, praying, listening to promptings of the Holy Spirit.  When we love others.  When we show compassion to people we know--and people we don't know.  When we encounter annoying people.  When we forgive.

There's so much more.  We can never live up to everything Jesus says, but that's not the point.  We're learning every day to follow his teachings, to love, and to be like him.

Faithfulness to his teachings means we don't dismiss them when they're inconvenient.  When we feel like our rights have been violated.  When we think life's not fair.  When we don't feel like listening because we would rather live life our own way.

Jesus teachings contain Truth.  The kind of Truth that is always true.  Perspective that enlightens and liberates.  That frees us from captivity to anger and bitterness and fear.  That frees us from sin.

It's not enough just to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  It's not enough to believe that he died for our sins and rose again.  Jesus wants us to follow him.  To hold faithfully to his teachings, to reflect those teachings in our lives.

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