In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be My disciples. –Luke 14:33
Is it just me or has Western Christianity become a spectator sport? It seems we’ve domesticated our wild, radical Jesus and reduced His call to a Sunday service.
In the book, not a fan., Kyle Idleman writes, “And I think Jesus has a lot of fans these days. Fans who cheer for Him when things are going well, but who walk away when it’s a difficult season. Fans who sit safely in the stands cheering, but they know nothing of the sacrifice and pain of the field. Fans of Jesus who know all about Him, but they don’t know Him.”
Sometimes life feels like a suit that’s too tight. I want to reflect the unconditional love of Jesus yet I fear my life isn’t much different than anyone else’s. It’s easier to hold on to what I have and know than leap with boldness into the unknown so I continue to do what I’ve always done.
In her book, Bandersnatch, Erika Morrison writes, “We, the incarnation people, too rarely provide culture with Jesus’ radically alternative style of living. Instead of doing what we’ve seen Him doing – putting ourselves at risk, mingling with untouchables, becoming slaves to humanity – we duplicate a religious version of what the world is already achieving: keeping to our own kind.”
My son, Joey understands this kind of living. Here’s one moment I witnessed:
Joey bakes and delivers treats to a convalescent home on Tuesdays. This particular day, he decided to bake brownies.
We entered the grocery store and I noticed a shopping cart full of garbage with something draped over the top. Almost immediately, I realized the something was a dirty, red sleeping bag.
“Don’t touch that” I said as I spotted the owner sitting on a bench not far away. Thin and gaunt, he appeared ancient and toothless. His filthy clothes hung at his sides like tent flaps. I offered a weak smile and followed Joey into the store.
Fifteen minutes later, the man forgotten, we had our ingredients and I went to stand in line. Our usual routine is I stand in line while Joey sits on a bench at the front of the store.
As I finish checking out, I notice Joey sitting next to the owner of the shopping cart. My heart skips a beat – Joey is a vulnerable person – I don’t know this man. What I do know is many homeless people struggle with addiction and/or mental health issues.
Joey sees me, gets up and runs to me, signing “he shook my hand – he’s my friend.” I ask, “you made a friend?” A huge grin splits his face as he nods happily – I am thinking, “do I take him to wash his hands now or wait until I get home?”
The man, watching us, stands and takes a step toward us. “Is this your son?” he asks. I nod. “He’s a special young man.” I nod.
With tears in his eyes, he says, “No one has touched me in months.” My eyes also fill with tears as he asks, “What’s his name?” “Joey” I answer. “Joey, you have a nice day.”
A knot forms in my stomach as I see the kingdom of God go from up there to down here – and realize how wrong my heart is.
I want to bend and stretch, interact and love people the way Jesus did, the way Joey does. To embrace a lifestyle where noticing and loving those the world casts aside isn’t just a moment in a grocery store.
I don’t want to be merely a spectator – I want to live the sweat, tears and sacrifice of the field. I want to be a follower not a fan.