Following Jesus

“Following Jesus is not a skill we acquire so that we can be useful to the kingdom (the Essene way). Following Jesus is not a privilege we are let into so that the kingdom can be useful to us (the Caiaphas way). It is obedience (‘my Lord!’). And it is worship (‘my God!’).”

– Eugene Peterson, THE JESUS WAY, p. 242

There are those who follow Christ in order to get blessings from God. Of course, they stop following once tragedy strikes or the blessing doesn’t arrive as expected.

Then there are those adopt a managerial approach to following Christ. Their goal is to become productive and successful in the Christian life. So they focus on discipleship trainings, various church programs and activities, formulas and strategies on how to pray so as to get your prayers answered, how to be victorious in this area of your life, how to study the Bible for maximum profit, etc. Results are what is important and finding and utilizing the right spiritual techniques is the key to getting results.

Then there’s the Jesus way, which is simply following where Jesus leads without overthinking and over-managing it. Peterson says, “When Jesus says, ‘Follow me’ and we follow, we don’t know where we will go next or what we will do next. That is why we follow the one who does know.”

But Jesus himself says it best:

“The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

Let’s follow Jesus. Let’s keep it simple!

While I Live

“While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” (Psalm 146:2)

Praising the Lord is a life-time business. While I have breath, while I’m still alive, I should go on praising the Lord in every way, whether through singing, working, preaching, teaching, etc.

Now that I’m older (past middle-age actually) I’ve lost somewhat my relish for things I used to do in my youth, such as singing, writing poems and songs, composing and playing the piano, preaching, teaching, etc. Maybe it’s because when you grow old you’ve got less energy than before, and you tend to focus on the more “serious” aspects of life (e.g., work, preparing for retirement, providing for your family, taking care of your health) so that you tend to neglect “less important” things such as songwriting and the like. Actually, I still do these things, but not as often as I would like. And that’s why I’m thankful for this verse because it reminds and encourages me to keep on doing these things while I’m still alive. What’s more important than praising the Lord all the days of our lives? Yes, we praise him through our work, but we ought to praise him too through singing, songwriting, composing music, writing poetry, preaching – all the ways we can according to our gifts! Besides, the Lord also said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” So what do I do with the rest of my life? I will praise the Lord in whatever way I can as long as I have life in me.

Lord, help me to do just that: praise you in every way – sing, write, compose, work, preach, teach – while I have my being.