It would be fair to say that everyone wants something in this life. Inherently we are born with a few existential ambitions; amongst these are the desire to be known and to know others intimately. As life progresses we are conditioned to begin to seek material possessions, a marital spouse, and fame. The idea of viral fame, spontaneous, longevous relationships, and glamorous possessions have become increasingly popular since the rise of social media.
These ravenous desires we are born with and eventually develop often turn us into consumers. We consume relationship after relationship in order to find the perfect balance of being known while also fulfilling our duty to know others. As millenials, we consume adventure after adventure seeking to satiate a social quota that could never be filled.
Inevitably, our journey in becoming consumers ultimately leads us to become followers. We begin to lose the ability to think for ourselves as well as the ability to siphon the bits and pieces of knowledge that get thrown our way. As long as our needs are met the rest of the details seem to get lost in obscurity.
This same sentiment of consumerism and becoming followers has worked its way into our churches and religious institutions.
As long as the worship and message are good we become less concerned with everything else. What is everything else? It’s the stuff that really matters. The lost, the marginalized, and the broken. The reality residing outside of the church walls were the original reason why the church was established in the first place.
I am constantly inundated with my own needs, desires, and dreams. I wake up some days realizing how selfish and self-focused I can be. Then I realize Jesus came, showed me he bought my life with a price, and I was changed for all of eternity. His blood, his sacrifice, and endless commitment showed me that Jesus was worth following.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”
This language Jesus uses in this verse could not be any more clear. Jesus didn’t take on human form and pay his life as a sacrifice so that we could find a good message and group of people to worship with. Jesus did not live the radical life he did in order to gather followers. Jesus desired disciples: people that would obey the Word of God and produce lasting fruit in others.
Jesus required that we would pick up our crosses and follow him, yes absolutely. A certain humility to follow and submit our own desires for the sake of the Gospel is necessary in being a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is an active state of being. It is not mindless, far from it, and requires that we daily choose to lay ourselves down so that we can be whole heartedly obedient and surrendered to the workings of the Cross.
Our religious checklist may be fulfilled on a daily basis; in fact our bible readings, worship times, and fellowship may be brilliant. However, if our discipleship, as a result of the workings of God, is not fruitful nor active, we can remember that discipleship was Christ’s last longing for the people of God to fulfill.