Follow

Every now and then the powers that be in Oasis gather staff together for ‘input sessions’, which I guess are meant to be times of motivation and inspiration for us as individuals and as an organisation. This morning we had Steve Chalke speaking to us about Peace.

It was a wide-ranging talk, starting with Jesus, diving into 9-11 and international politics, and finishing with how we as individuals should respond to each other in times of stress. I’m not going to try to summarise it all here, but I do want to post up what is a classic Steve Chalke quote from the talk:

Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus ask people to worship him…
…What He does ask is for people to follow Him – which is much harder. It is much easier for us to worship Jesus than it is for us to follow Him

Now, Steve has a great history with the sweeping statement, so I thought I’d stick up another quote from today before I talk about this one

Communication is not what I think I am conveying to you here; communication is what you hear and take away.

Our founder is no stranger to controversy, especially that of the unintended consequences. There was a lot of mention today of The Lost Message of Jesus, a much maligned and little read book. You may well have heard a lot about the Lost Message; if you haven’t read it, please do. I can’t recommend it enough. It is a challenging book about how we should live out our faith in practice, it is designed to provoke your thought and change your behaviour. Its one of those books which is great to disagree with, as long as you think about why.

Unfortunately the message of the Lost Message got drowned out by the unintended controversy concerning one ill-thought-out line in a chapter three quarters of the way through. I guess Steve has learnt a lot about both peacemaking and communication in the last few years…

***

I’m not sure if it’s true to say that nowhere does Jesus ask people to worship Him… He seems to infer His godliness quite a bit, especially in John’s version of the Gospel story. But I think the drive of Steve’s point is totally true: it is far easier to worship Him than to follow Him.

Steve’s context for this point was peacemaking: turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, loving our enemies. Those are all pretty hard things to do in practice, and I wonder how many of those of us who say we worship Jesus actually feel we practice them at all?

But in reality most of Jesus’ teachings are pretty hard to follow in practice. How many of us really view our faith in the terms of ‘taking up [our] cross[es]’? Or are really prepared to give up our friends, our homes, our families?

For a couple of years now I’ve been blown away by the enormity of what Jesus actually says in the gospels, and how different that reality seems to be from the faith I’ve grown up in. It’s not that most Christians don’t have sincere faith; they do. It is that, as Steve says, we are much better at worshiping that we are at following.

Lord, teach us to your servants
How to follow in your footsteps
For the Glory of your name
Amen

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