It's funny what has happened to my blog for the last few days. As long as I am writing about encouragement as well as wonderful things about God and his kindness to us, this blog gets reblogged. However, the moment I start writing about our obligations as followers of Jesus no one wants to read it. It's the same if I put up a few nice verses of Scripture, but the moment I put pictures up of the famine in Africa ... nothing.
I am not saying this because I have concerns over my readership because my attitude over the last 10 years is that I write and people read, c'est tout. My concern is that as followers of Jesus we are not prepared to handle the responsibilities of being a disciple, to deal with the tough stuff. We just want to live in our little bubble of faith; us worshiping God and God taking care of us. Allow me to pop that bubble, if you will, with a little example found in Paul's first letter to Timothy.
Paul is giving some instruction to Timothy on how to give oversight in Ephesus. In this context Paul is giving instructions about widows. Widows are usually looked after by the family but in some cases it fell to the church. So here is Paul's instruction on the requirements of a widow to be put on the widows list:
No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. (1 Timothy 5:9-10)
This is not the "do what you want as long as you come to church" attitude of leadership today. This is not the "worship" culture of today. This is direct and demanding leadership. There were expectations of those who were members of the Church, that they would do as Jesus did. If good deeds were not being produced in a person's life then the leadership considered that to be a sign of lack of genuineness. Now we leaders only hope that people show up so we try not to interfere in their personal lives. Pastors who interfere are considered controlling and are marked as people to avoid. Now it is true that there are some controllers out there but you need to look at the motivation. Are they interfering for your benefit or for their own? The fact is, it is the pastor's responsibility to be involved in your life, giving instruction, guidance and correction where it is needed. There is much more to Christian living than what we are demanding of people today. Arew e demanding anything of them?
Today there is not much to being a Christian because people do not understand their obligations as followers of Jesus Christ. The obligation is simple, it is an obligation of love. Love produces things in us by the Spirit. From love springs kindness which is the root of good deeds. We do not do good deeds to be saved but instead because we are saved. It should be a natural thing that we want to do because Jesus' love compels us. If our life is not filled with kindnesses and good deeds then we should question our relationship with Jesus. Do we have a real relationship that is provoking changes in our perspective of life and people? Paul put the matter this way:
The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden. (1 Timothy 5:24-25)
Following Jesus is more than reading your Bible, praying, worshiping, going to seminars, talking to people on the Internet and, yes, more than reading blogs (for that matter, writing them too). Jesus was compelled into action by his great compassion. If he set for us an example of the life we are to live then many of us aren't even in the same ball park. It is time to let go of the things that are holding us back and allow our love to become a thing of action. Start with Africa. Reach out to the thousands who are dying daily. Show the compassion that comes from a heart dedicated to Jesus. Tell Jesus you have issues with loving others and that you are willing to learn from him. Then go and become accountable to your pastor for how you are living your life.